Nearing the Home Stretch, Offshore Wind Power Needs Our Focus More than Ever
from Wildlife PromiseEach state’s road to tapping its offshore wind power potential is marked with its own unique set of hurdles. As a Massachusetts native, I have been hearing the back-and-forth on the Cape Wind project for more than half of my life. While the project’s developers trudged through 13 years riddled with 26 lawsuits – of which they defeated every single one – many locals lost track of where Cape Wind went. Now on the cusp of construction, a large area of federal waters far off the Massachusetts coast has also been designated for offshore wind power development – creating further opportunities to ensure this critical new clean power source plays a major role in the Commonwealth’s energy future.
For the first time in U.S. history, actual offshore wind projects are within reach, and with the help of resounding public support, will break through the barrier that has kept us from this pivotal piece of our ability to protect wildlife and their habitats from the dangerous effects of climate change.
Add your voice to a message we are sending to the Obama Administration calling for swift and responsible offshore wind development off Massachusetts!
Cape Wind kicked off America’s tangible pursuit of harnessing the clean and limitless wind energy off our shores, and since then, nearly all coastal states have started exploring their opportunities. Last month, NWF released a report outlining the status of offshore wind power development in all Atlantic Coast states. With its own Block Island Wind Farm slated for construction next year, Rhode Island joined Massachusetts at the front of the pack, with Maryland close behind and key opportunities emerging in states like Virginia, New York, and New Jersey. Concluding with a set of five recommendations to help state leaders reach their offshore wind power potential, the report emphasizes a key message: now is the moment to double down, raise our voices, and make offshore wind power a prosperous American reality.
America Needs Offshore Wind Power
Early hesitation to embrace the new and abstract concept of powering our homes and businesses with offshore wind energy has long been addressed. Today’s offshore wind power industry is a booming international celebration of a solution that can match the scale of our environmental challenges. Two decades of lessons learned overseas – where over 70 projects are up and running supporting over 60,000 jobs – demonstrate that the benefits of offshore wind power extend even beyond its lack of carbon emissions. For instance:
- When strict and attainable protective measures are honored, offshore wind power siting, construction, and operation offers a safe energy development opportunity – not to mention the benefits of clean air and water that people and wildlife will get to enjoy for generations to come. NWF tracks all U.S. offshore wind projects closely and engages directly to ensure strong wildlife and habitat protections are in place every step of the way – as we have done and will continue to do in the case of the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. As an energy opportunity that can protect wildlife, offshore wind power – when done right – earns NWF’s seal of approval.
- Offshore wind power will create thousands of U.S. jobs, and has already begun doing so. Last week, Cape Wind’s developers announced contracts with two American marine construction firms, as well as the Boston & New England Maritime Trades Council, AFL-CIO, to ultimately install the project’s 130 turbines. And the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal – the port under construction in Massachusetts to be able to deploy offshore wind turbines – already employs more than 100 people.
- A more diverse energy portfolio will stabilize electric rates by buffering consumers from volatility in the fossil fuel market. Increased reliance on natural gas in the Northeast hinges us to the price spikes we know to accompany summer heat waves and winter cold snaps. With the added bonus of keeping our energy dollars local, the winds right offshore are blowing strongest at precisely those expensive moments of peak demand – providing clean, renewable power when we need it most.
Yes, we have made great strides toward seizing the opportunity on our horizon, and that is exactly why we need to raise a united call to keep up the momentum. We need to ensure Cape Wind and Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm can stay ahead of fossil fuel-funded opposition, get built and online, and that more projects line up to follow. We will rejoice the first projects in their own rights – but perhaps most of all, for their value as the start of something new.