October 12, 2022 By Hank Greenberg Atlantic City is known for its breathtaking boardwalk and beautiful beaches. The area’s sense of fun is memorialized by the board game Monopoly, which named its properties after Atlantic City’s roads. Yet, Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick wants the summer destination to be known for something entirely different: offshore wind farms. Fitzpatrick pointed to […]
Atlantic City is known for its breathtaking boardwalk and beautiful beaches. The area’s sense of fun is memorialized by the board game Monopoly, which named its properties after Atlantic City’s roads. Yet, Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick wants the summer destination to be known for something entirely different: offshore wind farms.
Fitzpatrick pointed to statistics that show her part of New Jersey lags behind the rest of the state economically. While tourism brings lots of business during the summer, it is ultimately a seasonal industry.
In contrast, offshore wind has the potential to add thousands of year-round union jobs to the economy of southern New Jersey. She emphatically shared her enthusiasm for offshore wind during a recent press conference hosted by Elected Officials to Protect America.
“We really need to embrace this. This is the answer… this is going to bring high-paying union jobs to our area, which we so desperately need. We cannot continue to be primarily a tourist destination… We need more to support the families who live here,” Fitzpatrick said.
Economic professor and Schenectady Councilmember John Polimeni further details the financial benefits of wind power.
Polimeni teaches at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
While Fitzpatrick complimented New Jersey’s governor Phil Murphy for establishing “lofty” goals for the offshore wind industry, she still believes the state government has more work to do. That’s why she signed a letter calling for the continued “responsible development of offshore wind for New Jersey.”
Fitzpatrick’s story is just one of many. Similar petitions in favor of offshore wind have been circulated in New York and California by Elected Officials to Protect America, a group of elected officials dedicated to mitigating the climate crisis. Collectively, 340 elected officials have declared their support for this issue.
Dominic Frongillo, executive director of EOPA, explained the purpose of the recent press conference he moderated was “to discuss the responsible build-out of offshore wind and to ask for increased federal permitting.”
Massachusetts will use offshore wind to bring jobs to the areas that need jobs most —
It may be surprising to some, but New Bedford, Massachusetts was once widely known as “the town that lit America.” Back in the 1800s, New Bedford’s whale oil was essential for candle making. The town still supports one hundred thousand people through the fishing and shipping industries, but it is not the economic hub that it used to be.
Massachusetts towns of Salem and Somerset have been on a similar trajectory. Although, instead of whale oil, these towns once relied on coal-burning power plants. Councilmember Cobi Frongillo sees offshore wind as a viable way to return energy production back to these communities.
When the Massachusetts government determines where to begin new energy projects and new infrastructure projects they actively look for the towns that could benefit most from an economic stimulus.
There are enough resources to keep everyone in the state happy. A study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) determined that the oceans around Massachusetts have the highest capacity for offshore wind of any of the lower 48 states. If the area is used to its full potential it could sustainably power every home in the state many times over.
The offshore wind farm in Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind, consists of only 62 wind turbines. However, these 62 turbines have the ability to power over four hundred thousand homes. “That’s the equivalent of taking 325,000 cars off the road,” Frongillo said.
Vineyard Wind is expected to be completed in 2023.
Frongillo stressed that keeping the current industries in these coastal communities happy was fundamental to the success or failure of a large offshore wind project. Massachusetts has been in constant communication with New Bedford about which areas have to be reserved for fishing and about how wide shipping lines need to be.
Frongillo commented that the New Bedford Port Authority has been “a great ally” in the efforts to establish offshore wind.
New York leaders are loudly championing offshore wind—
New York is the only state in the country to border the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes. Geographically, New York is excellently positioned to take advantage of the economic potential of the offshore wind industry.
The Empire State has already approved five offshore wind farms to be built in the near future.
Rochester City Council Vice President Mary Lupin pointed out a potential inequity in the current plans, “all of these projects will be in the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New York City. Western New York has not really been on the radar when it comes to offshore wind.”
Lupin noted that the total capacity of all five of these projects combined is only half of the state government’s goal. No matter what more has to be done to reach the standards that the government promised.
Lupin proposed that some of the future projects should be built in the Great Lakes.
“Future western New York wind projects have the potential to surpass all of New York’s goals by sixteen times over,” Lupin said.
Because her city of Rochester borders Lake Ontario, an infrastructure project of this scale could really help the city boom economically. An investment in Rochester would go very far because it is one of the most economically disadvantaged places in all of New York. Offshore wind would provide union jobs and generational wealth that is desperately needed.
Lupin said, ” we can’t leave western New York behind.
Former Rye City Councilmember Sara Goddard agreed with Lupin’s proposal saying, “there is no greater urgency today than for swift and decisive climate action, particularly for those in the most hard hit communities in the state of New York and beyond.”
Goddard said offshore wind will improve the health of all Americans.
Federal action is greatly needed to support the industry—
According to EOPA executive director Dominic Frongillo, federal funding and streamlining will be essential in order to uplift all of these projects in New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and beyond.
Larger commitments to offshore wind development will stabilize the industry. Right now, offshore wind is a project-dependent industry, which can deter some investors.
If the federal government can quickly establish higher goals for the nation’s total wind energy capacity, America could become the worldwide leader in this renewable energy arena.
Councilmember Cobi Frongillo said, “offshore wind means local supply chain. We know that the world will be moving in this direction quickly over the next few decades.”
This could have profound implications on the global scale. Americans won’t necessarily be reliant on OPEC Middle Eastern autocrats and dictators like Russia won’t have the opportunity to make European democracies dependent on their natural gas.
Councilmember Cobi Frongillo pointed out that right now “a dictator in Russia” is responsible for rising electricity bills in America this winter. He said this could be resolved through the use of renewable energy sources.
Most importantly, all the elected officials agreed that with a fully functioning offshore wind industry everyone would be better protected from the risks of climate change.