Washington, D.C. — The construction of new offshore wind farms in New Jersey and other coastal states could lead to more than 75,000 clean energy jobs, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress and the New Jersey Work Environment Council (WEC).
Examples in the United States and Europe show that with the right policies in place, offshore wind development can translate into expansive job creation and demand for skilled workers, the report says. With more than 100 gigawatts of offshore wind resources available in federal and Great Lakes waters, elected officials and labor leaders have a chance to turn wind farms into economic wins for their working ports and harbors, communities, and workers.
“Offshore wind is a vast clean energy resource that will lead to economic wins for workers,” said Shiva Polefka, associate director of Ocean Policy at CAP. “When coastal states get the right policy in place for offshore wind, they’re supporting working families and being leaders in the urgent fight against climate change.”
In one of his first actions in office, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed an executive order that directs the state to move toward the goal of generating 3500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030.
“Gov. Murphy’s order recognizes the importance of offshore wind development,” said Dan Fatton, executive director for WEC. “This report underscores a major opportunity to not only put people to work installing those turbines, but also to create a regional supply chain that will provide family-sustaining jobs in the manufacturing and distribution industries.”
The report provides a case study of the nation’s first commercial offshore wind project—the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, which concretely demonstrates the environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind development. More than 300 local, unionized workers were employed in the assembly and installation of the facility at wages that ranged from $28 to $40 per hour plus benefits.
That number could surge as other states begin their own projects. In European Union countries, the manufacture, installation, and maintenance of offshore wind facilities supported about 75,000 full-time-equivalent workers in 2014 when development achieved the level currently targeted by states including New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York.
Labor leaders and policymakers can help encourage these projects by participating in the permitting process for specific offshore wind projects, supporting comprehensive ocean planning frameworks, and providing job training to ensure that men and women in key construction and logistics trades can apply their skills to maritime work environments.
Read the report: “Offshore Wind Means Blue-Collar Jobs for Coastal States” by Shiva Polefka and Kyle Cornish.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs or 202-478-6327.