Boston - With the legislature poised to act on clean energy, a broad coalition of more than 100 environmental organizations, community groups, faith leaders, academics, health professionals, businesses, and government officials expressed strong support for making offshore wind power a key part of the Commonwealth’s energy plan. This wide range of stakeholders sent a letter to Governor Charlie Baker calling on him to embrace offshore wind and commit to at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2025.
“Massachusetts has the potential to harness clean, limitless energy from the winds off our shores,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “A 2,000 megawatt commitment to offshore wind power would help get us off fossil fuels and move Massachusetts closer to a future powered entirely by clean, renewable energy.”
After years of close stakeholder engagement, the federal government has designated over 900,000 acres of federal waters for offshore wind power development more than 10 miles off the south coast of Massachusetts – enough to power nearly three million homes. Leading wind energy developers have already purchased leases in these areas and are ready to advance utility-scale projects once state officials send a clear policy signal.
"The offshore wind industry is an essential part of energy policy and capacity for our region and our state. In our area, it is also a significant economic development opportunity for which we have been preparing for many years,” said Rick Kidder, President and CEO of the New Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce. “For these reasons, we strongly support the development and implementation of offshore wind for Massachusetts."
Research shows that a major commitment to offshore wind power can lower prices by creating sufficient demand to allow the industry to achieve economies of scale. A recent study by the University of Delaware showed that a 2,000 megawatt commitment could provide developers with enough market visibility to decrease the current price of offshore wind by more than half over the course of only ten years. A 2,000 megawatt offshore wind requirement would help jumpstart Massachusetts’ offshore wind industry and unleash the full benefits of this local, pollution-free energy an increasingly cost-competitive power source.
Advocates concerned about reducing climate-altering carbon emissions assert that a major commitment to offshore wind power is critical to meeting the state’s emission reduction requirements recently upheld by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
“The Commonwealth must make a serious commitment to offshore wind development,” said Representative Frank I. Smizik, Chair of the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change. “A sizeable procurement of 2000MW, coupled with our state’s world class technical knowledge, represents a unique opportunity to continue our clean energy and climate leadership, meet our GWSA mandates, establish a first in the nation industry, and bring economic opportunity to individuals throughout the state.”
With more than 8,000 megawatts of untapped wind power potential available off the Massachusetts’ coast, a strong commitment to offshore wind from Governor Baker would have a tremendous impact on efforts to reduce pollution and shift away from fossil fuels to truly launch a new clean energy chapter for the Commonwealth, setting an example for the nation as a whole.
“Every day Massachusetts is importing dirty energy from outside of our state. Offshore wind not only offers the hope of a safe climate future, but it can be a crucial vehicle for providing good jobs, especially in communities that have born an unjust burden for polluting power plants, says Reverend Mariama White-Hammond of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Boston. “The Creator has gifted us with abundant, clean, local energy and we have a responsibility to tap into this power and put our residents to work building for a better future for our children.”
In June, the Massachusetts House and Senate each passed bills aimed at promoting energy diversity. The Senate bill makes a stronger commitment to renewable energy and would require utilities to contract at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2027. The House version requires a 1,200 megawatt commitment. The bills are now in a conference committee where a compromise must be reached before a law is passed.
“Now is the moment for Massachusetts to finally embrace offshore wind power as a critical solution to protect our communities and wildlife from the dangers of climate change,” said Catherine Bowes, Senior Manager at National Wildlife Federation. “We are calling on the Commonwealth’s leaders to make a commitment of at least 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power in order to fully unleash the environmental, public health, and economic benefits of this transformational new energy source.”