With critical federal tax incentives set to expire on December 31, twelve Maine organizations joined more than 230 other organizations and elected officials Wednesday to urge the Obama Administration to take swift, bold action to facilitate the development of offshore wind power. Their letter to the President is available here. A 12-megawatt (MW) offshore wind pilot project has been proposed for development off the coast of Maine and is under review by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy. State law sets a goal of developing 5,000 MW by 2030.
Organizations lauded offshore wind power as a promising alternative to America’s fossil-fueled power plants, the largest single source of carbon pollution that scientists say is fueling global warming and ocean acidification. Climate change is hitting close to home in Maine, including in coastal areas, as rising sea levels and storms surges threaten the state’s treasured coastline; warming ocean temperatures threaten the long-term survival of clams, shrimp, and other fisheries; and warming temperatures increase public health threats like smog and tick-borne Lyme Disease.
Offshore wind also offers Maine a significant economic opportunity as well, which federal leadership would help the state achieve. The offshore wind pilot project currently proposed off our coasts would create more than 300 jobs alone, because much of the construction and deployment of the project will take place in Maine coastal communities. By creating a new economic frontier in the Gulf of Maine, offshore wind offers potential opportunities for Maine coastal communities for years to come.
“Maine is blessed with enormous renewable energy potential, and Maine people strongly support moving forward with investments to help tap that potential and increase clean, Maine-made energy,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “As part of federal leadership on offshore wind, Congress must renew the offshore wind investment tax credit to jumpstart this critical new clean energy source for America.”
“For Maine and the US to reap the full energy, environmental, and economic benefits from offshore wind, we need a comprehensive federal policy that insures the stable atmosphere required to attract the long-term investments to build the industry,” said Paul Williamson, director of the Maine Ocean & Wind Industry Initiative. “The Maine Ocean and Wind Industry Initiative is in full support of the request for the Obama Administration to set dedicated policy strategy to promote the US offshore wind industry.”
The letter calls on the Obama Administration to:
• Set a bold goal for offshore wind development in the Atlantic, consistent with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) current goal of 54 GW by 2030.
• Support critical investments in offshore wind power including federal incentives and support for federal research, development, and deployment programs at both the Department of the Interior and DOE.
• Spur markets for offshore wind power, through power purchase commitments and collaboration among key agencies.
• Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, built, and operated responsibly.
“Climate change threatens so much of what makes our state home — lobstering, ice fishing, our rugged coast, mild summers, and much more. Harnessing the wind that blows off our shores is essential to solving the climate crisis,” said Environment Maine Director Emily Figdor.
“Offshore wind is the largest available resource to make the transformation to clean energy,” said Sean Mahoney, of the Conservation Law Foundation. “Tapping into this resource will also enhance energy security and provide economic benefits for Maine, including against volatile fossil fuel prices.”
In June, President Obama announced a historic Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution. In addition to placing the first ever national limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the plan called for doubling the amount of renewable energy generated on federally controlled land and waters. Advocates pointed out that offshore wind power offers a critical opportunity to meet this goal and achieve our nation’s environmental and energy objectives.
America can create hundreds of thousands of jobs while powering our homes and businesses with local, clean energy, but only if our elected officials and regulators take the right steps now, according to a report released last year by the National Wildlife Federation, Environment America, and 45 partner organizations along the Atlantic Coast. The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy: Time for Action to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, Protect Wildlife & Secure America’s Energy Future details the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind energy, the progress made to-date, potential obstacles to that progress, and a prosperous path forward.