February 8, 2022
Part I: With its first offshore wind project approved and more in the pipeline, New York’s labor movement is ready to go
By Elana Knopp, Senior Content Writer
In this first of a two-part series, Edison Energy sat down with Mariah Dignan, Regional Director, Long Island, at Climate Jobs New York (CJNY), to discuss the booming offshore wind sector in New York State and the thousands of green jobs it will create in the region.
New York recently announced plans to invest $500 million in ports, manufacturing, and supply chain infrastructure needed to advance the state’s offshore wind industry. The investment is expected to create thousands of good-paying jobs, deliver billions in economic impact, and generate enough energy to power millions of homes.
The state has set an unprecedented goal of generating 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035 and has five projects in development totaling nearly 4,300 MW, to be sited off Long Island’s shores.
NYSERDA has plans to launch its next offshore wind procurement in 2022, which is expected to result in at least 2 GW of new projects.
Climate Jobs NY (CJNY) has been a major advocate for offshore wind development in the region, educating local union workers and communities about the economic and environmental benefits of the state’s planned wind projects.
The growing coalition of labor unions represents 2.6 million working men and women—all on a mission to make Long Island a hub of offshore wind development in New York.
“This has been a really great year for offshore wind,” said Mariah Dignan, Regional Director at CJNY. “We have hit so many milestones throughout the year from both the federal and state ends of things, and I think in 2022 there’s just going to be even greater momentum coming for the industry. We have a real opportunity ahead of us and we’re excited to continue the work. We’re happy to have a labor movement that is so strong and to see this through to the finish line, so we’re united. It’s really coming together. We’re getting into contract details with these projects and looking at specifics, so it’s exciting.”
New York State now has five offshore wind projects in active development – the largest offshore wind pipeline in the nation and representing nearly 50 percent of the capacity needed to meet New York’s nation-leading offshore wind target.
To support the wind projects, CJNY has been actively engaging with policymakers to help secure funding for infrastructure and grid upgrades–critical to ensuring resilient and reliable offshore wind power in the region.
“We’ve had conversations with Sen. Schumer’s office about the $73 billion that was in the bipartisan infrastructure bill and how much New York is getting from that,” Dignan said. “We need grid and bulk voltage transmission upgrades on Long Island to host all this power that we’re going to get. We’re going to start construction on South Fork in the next year, so this is coming soon. We’re meeting with our federal, state and local leaders to ensure that Long Island and downstate New York are getting the transmission resources to not only be able to take the power from offshore wind but then get that up and around the state in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible.”
In December, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced funding of $29.5 million awarded to the Port of Albany Offshore Wind Tower Manufacturing Project through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) Port Infrastructure Development Grant program.
The project will be one of the first large-scale offshore wind tower manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and is expected to create an estimated 500 construction jobs and 550 direct and full-time new manufacturing and support jobs.
In addition to the recently announced funding, the recently passed Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act provides more than $17 billion for port and waterway infrastructure, including $2.25 billion over five years for the DOT’s Port Infrastructure Development Program.
“The offshore wind supply chain is all very much in Europe right now, but we want a domestic supply chain,” Dignan said. “We want New York workers, good union workers, fabricating those products and we want them working on the projects as well. So, there’s a lot from that infrastructure bill and it just really highlights the importance of Build Back Better and how we need to get that done. If we’re talking about creating a clean energy economy that works for everyone, we need to make sure we’re making the commensurate investments in the sort of economy that lifts everybody up, that lifts every worker up–and we have a real opportunity to do that–so we’re going full throttle. Let’s get Build Back Better passed.”
The 130 MW South Fork Wind Farm will be New York’s first operational offshore wind project, to be developed off the east coast of Long Island. In January, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the project’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP)–the final decision needed from the agency to move the project toward the start of construction.
“Thanks to years of thorough planning and engagement by Orsted/Eversource with labor, environmental groups, and local community members, we will create hundreds of good union jobs while bringing new zero-emission energy to Long Islanders,” Dignan said.
Other projects in New York’s pipeline include the Sunrise Wind, Empire Wind 1 & 2, and Beacon Wind projects, which together are expected to power over 2.4 million homes, create more than 6,800 jobs, and pump $12.1 billion into the economy.
Stay tuned for the second part of the series! Check out additional conversations with leading experts from across the industry in our Visionary Voices: Perspectives in Energy Series.
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