Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind, New Report Results Confirm Viability
Press Release

RELEASE: Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind, New Report Results Confirm Viability

Washington, D.C. — Today Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act and the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy States Alliance, the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaboration released a jointly commissioned Brattle Group report, 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.

In the issue brief that accompanies this report titled “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 and Congress 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 more than 4,000 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, while we have yet to begin construction on our first offshore turbine,” said Conathan. “The offshore wind bill 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 ratepayers.”

To provide a conservative estimate of the economic effects, the Brattle Group analysis does not include any subsidies such as the production tax credit or investment tax credit, both of which apply to offshore wind energy. “America has a successful public-private formula for launching new energy sectors: share early stage risk and invest in innovation,” said Fara Courtney, president of the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative. “Offshore wind is the next big opportunity to diversify the U.S. energy portfolio and take on the climate change challenge.”

The first of its kind in analyzing the broader economic impact of developing an entire offshore wind industry, the Brattle Group report finds that the national average monthly rate increase for consumers would be between $0.25 to $2.08. “The public is ahead of the policymakers when it comes to making smart investments now to build a more secure, affordable, and clean energy supply,” said Vanessa Pierce, regional director for the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign. “Even during these tough economic times, multiple polls show that majorities of Americans are willing to pay more for their electricity bills to ensure their power comes from clean energy. In particular, polling in New York and Maryland finds that solid majorities of voters would pay a couple dollars more every month to support local offshore wind projects.”

“Offshore wind can provide the East Coast with a virtually limitless source of clean energy right in its own backyard, with zero fuel costs and without the need to build expensive land-based transmission lines through the region’s urban and rural landscapes,” said Mark Sinclair, executive director of Clean Energy States Alliance. “And the good news, as this analysis shows, is that offshore wind power—with scale-up—can become price competitive with other dirtier electricity resources very soon and without hardship to ratepayers’ wallets.”

To speak with experts on this report, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or [email protected].