States, Companies Bullish on Offshore Wind

Source: Wikipedia

Kicking off the discussion on “Offshore Wind: The Giga Opportunity” at NASEO’s 2019 Energy Policy Outlook Conference, Mary Beth Tung, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, treated participants not only to her office’s distinctive blue offshore wind socks but also a breakdown of the key issues that state policymakers need to grapple with to realize this growing clean energy opportunity: engagement of federal and private sector stakeholders, transmission planning, and, importantly, workforce training and development.

“It’s offshore wind, but there are living breathing people on the opposite end of this as well,” noted Dr. Tung in emphasizing the need for communications, coordination, and planning.

The discussion highlighted the growing momentum with which federal agencies, governors, investors, and private companies are embracing offshore wind technologies. In November 2018, Governor Cuomo issued a solicitation seeking at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind projects for New York, joining Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, and others in enacting policies and commitments that support greater development.

“We have done more in the last 53 weeks than we have in the past 10 years on offshore wind under Governor Murphy,” noted Sara Bluhm, Director of the Division of Clean Energy in the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Developing the state’s “Blue Economy,” Bluhm added, has required not only executive leadership and commitment but also strategic planning, partnerships, and a thorough examination of grid impacts, the supply chain, and workforce training infrastructure and networks in and around New Jersey.

Judith Judson, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, agreed, noting in particular that “the issue of transmission is becoming more and more important,” requiring multi-state coordination and planning.

To break down the key transmission planning considerations that states will need to navigate in their pursuit of offshore wind development, Kent Herzhog, Competitive Transmission Manager, Burns and McDonnell, offered several key decision points: “where will offshore generation connect to the onshore grid, how will they integrate, and who is responsible for transmission development? How can states and regional organizations coordinate? And how will offshore transmission projects be regulated and financed?”

Despite the policy and program challenges ahead for states, offshore wind development holds enormous promise and growth. “It has to do with price,” noted Matthew Morrissey, Head of New England Markets for NASEO Affiliate Ørsted US Offshore Wind, highlighting the cost reductions experienced in Europe due to increased project volume, investment, and best practices. Added Alana Duerr, Offshore Wind Lead for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technology Office, “with sustained R&D investment, we can continue to bring the cost of [wind] energy down for ratepayers.”

To view the presentations from “Offshore Wind: The Giga Opportunity,” visit https://energyoutlook.naseo.org/agenda.