WASHINGTON – As our nation continues to debate the issue of climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, today U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) joined Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) in introducing the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act to provide critical financial incentives for investment in offshore wind energy. U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Me.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate. These bills provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by extending investment tax credits for the first 3,000 Megawatts of offshore wind facilities placed into service, which is an estimate of 600 wind turbines. These tax credits are vital for this new clean energy technology because of the longer lead time for the permitting and construction of offshore wind turbines, compared to onshore wind energy. Once awarded a tax credit, companies would have five years to install the offshore wind facility. Companies would not be able to receive other production or investment tax credits in addition to the offshore wind investment tax credit.
“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we must do everything we can to encourage investment in new and exciting clean energy technologies, like offshore wind, that will reduce our dependence on the carbon based fuels that cause climate change,” stated Rep. Pascrell. “Offshore wind offers an enormous potential for producing domestic, clean energy close to the large population centers of the northeast. The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act will give tax certainty to the seed investors this industry needs to jumpstart installations, encourage the development of manufacturing facilities, create good paying jobs, and reduce costs for future projects and consumers.”
“Developing wind energy off our nation’s shores, especially in places like my home state of Delaware, is a critical part of boosting American energy independence and jumpstarting our clean energy economy,” said Sen. Carper. “Offshore wind is a true ‘win-win-win’ – it is cleaner for our environment, reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign energy, and helps create jobs. If we want to harness this untapped, domestic energy source, providing investment tax incentives for our country’s first offshore wind projects is essential. Our bill would do just that. Additionally, it would help spur an industry that can be an engine for new, good-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, maintenance and production. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation and encouraging the growth of the American offshore wind industry.”
“There is enormous potential in offshore wind, which is why I am delighted that Maine is actively working to develop deepwater offshore wind technology,” said Sen. Collins. “America must become a leader in offshore wind energy. This bill would create rewarding incentives for the first offshore wind projects, which could help diversify our energy supply, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and create thousands of new American jobs.”
The legislation defines offshore facilities as any facility located in the inland navigable waters of the United States, including the Great Lakes, or in the coastal waters of the United States, including the territorial seas of the United States, the exclusive economic zone of United States, and the outer Continental Shelf of the United States.
Today, the Center for American Progress released a report jointly commissioned by the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaboration, which shows that even without federal subsidies, offshore wind can be cost competitive with electricity from natural gas by 2024. Further, this report finds that building an American offshore wind industry would have minimal effect on consumers—a large majority of whom are willing to pay this slight increase for homegrown clean energy that creates jobs, protects public health, and leads to greater energy independence. The full report is available here.
In the issue brief that accompanies this report, “Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind,” the author Michael Conathan, CAP Director of Ocean Policy, describes the current policy landscape and the positive results presented in the Brattle Group report while recommending that the Obama administration take steps to accelerate the "Smart from the Start Program," roll back subsidies for mature and polluting energy industries, put a price on carbon, and swiftly enact the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act.
"America has been standing on the sidelines watching the rest of the world develop over 4,000 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, while we have yet to begin construction on our first offshore turbine," said Conathan. "Enactment of the offshore wind bills introduced today in the House and Senate would ensure that we can take advantage of the promise and opportunity of offshore wind, to diversify our energy mix, while ensuring development will not burden rate payers."
Offshore wind offers enormous potential for producing clean domestic energy and helping create good jobs in areas located close to large population centers along the coasts. Because offshore wind blows faster and more uniformly at sea than the wind on land, it is a huge untapped resource for clean American power. According to the University of Delaware, the winds off the Atlantic Coast have the potential of generating 330 Gigawatts of power. That is enough power to replace about 300 dirty, large coal plants and enough power to support nine states from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Additionally, building and operating these wind farms would create economic opportunities along our coasts. Learning from European countries, who have seen over 50 offshore wind projects deployed since 1991, we know an offshore wind project can create up to 1,500 jobs in construction and operation and maintenance alone.
A number of proposed offshore wind projects are moving through the development process, including projects in Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Maine. Projects have also been discussed off the shores of Maryland and the Great Lakes states.
Joining Reps. Pascrell and LoBiondo on the House legislation as a cosponsor is Rep. John Carney (DE).
Joining Sens. Carper and Collins on the Senate legislation as cosponsors are Sens. Chris Coons (DE), Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez (NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed (RI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Angus King (ME), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Elizabeth Warren and Mo Cowan (MA), and Ben Cardin (MD).