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White House builds coalition of East Coast governors to invest in wind power

The effort furthers President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Joining forces with 11 East Coast governors in an effort to provide Americans with cleaner energy, the White House on Thursday launched a federal-state partnership to further develop the offshore wind industry. 

“Working together — states and the federal government — we can blow the lid off our growing domestic offshore wind industry and get us to our clean energy future faster,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement Thursday.

The Biden administration said in a press release that the effort, officially dubbed the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, will shore up cheaper energy, good-paying jobs and “lower energy costs for American families while protecting them from volatile fossil fuel price spikes.” The latter is a notable goal at a time when fossil fuel prices are rising dramatically, and comes after President Joe Biden pushed Wednesday for the country invest in cleaner energy solutions to limit the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Marking a historic investment in American clean energy supply chains in the era of climate change, Biden originally announced his goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030 in March 2021

“Enough to power 10 million homes with clean energy, support 77,000 jobs, and spur $12 billion per year in private investment in offshore wind projects,” according to the White House.

The administration also said Thursday it would be advancing a National Offshore Wind Supply Chain Roadmap, in part by securing the specialized ships needed to erect the large wind turbines in the open ocean and designating offshore wind vessels as “vessels of national interest," a move that will prioritize financing so the ships can be built quickly.

In 2021, investors put $2.2 billion in new funding into wind power, the White House noted, some of which will be put toward the development of nine new manufacturing facilities that will produce offshore wind turbine foundations, towers, cables and blades.

The Biden administration estimates that there’s around $109 billion in potential revenue to be made in the offshore wind supply chain in the next 10 years. The partnership to develop the nation’s offshore wind economy is a cornerstone of the White House’s plans to make the nation carbon-free by 2035.

The partnership announced Thursday includes the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, who committed to procuring 40 gigawatts of offshore wind. They were joined by Granholm, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and other Biden administration officials at the White House. 

The administration said the federal-state partnership could expand to the West Coast — where the California Coastal Commission voted unanimously to build the coast’s first offshore wind farm in April — and the Gulf of Mexico as those regions develop.

The Biden administration approved the first commercial-scale wind farm, the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind Project, in May 2021. Plans to build the South Fork Wind farm off the coasts of New York and Rhode Island, announced in January 2021, have also been approved despite facing criticism from nearby residents who cited safety and environmental concerns. 

Both are now “under construction and being built by union labor,” the White House said Thursday — part of Biden’s continued pro-union stance. The Department of the Interior is currently reviewing 10 more wind projects that would generate 22 more gigawatts of energy if approved, it added.

Notably, a Danish wind developer called Orsted signed onto a project labor contract last month with an American building trades union to construct offshore wind farms. The developer is currently navigating six projects across fives states and is working with North America's Building Trades Unions, a construction workers’ union of around 3 million members.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement Thursday he and the bipartisan coalition of East Coast governors “are united with our regional and federal partners not just by geography but by a shared commitment to clean and affordable energy, economic opportunity and a future in which all community members are shielded from the worsening impacts of climate change.”

The Biden administration plans to auction off up to seven offshore wind turbines by 2025, including two recent auctions held off the North Carolina coast and in the New York Bight.

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