Hundreds of New Jobs Are Expected at Upstate Ports Thanks to Offshore Wind

From Spectrum News

New York’s investment in offshore wind will likely mean hundreds of new manufacturing jobs for the Capital Region, according to Alicia Barton, President & CEO of NYSERDA.

Here’s why: Offshore wind turbines are massive. According to General Electric which manufactures them, a single blade is longer than a football field.

Many turbine elements cannot be manufactured on Long Island and New York City where offshore wind farms will be based because of population density and the cost of real estate. Also, some components are too big to travel on the state’s roadways.

This is where the Ports of Albany and Coeymans come in: Both are affordable, roomy and adjacent to the Hudson River.

The state’s Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates a total 9000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2025, enough to power 6 million households. In July, the state awarded the first two contracts toward the 9000 megawatt goal, totaling a record 1700 megawatts.

Empire Wind is owned by Norway’s Equinor; Sunrise Wind is owned by Denmark’s Orsted and US-based energy provider Eversource.

While offshore wind is relatively new in the U.S., it’s well-established in Europe. Both Equinor and Orsted are now looking to re-create their European supply chains on this side of the pond.

Barton explained to Spectrum News that because New York has “signaled” such a strong investment in offshore wind through the CLCPA, and because the state is centrally located on the mid-Atlantic coast, New York could become the “center of gravity” for wind power and its supply chain hub.

While some hiring for the supply chain has already begun, the bulk hiring will begin in 2020 at both the Ports of Albany and Coeymans, where the companies plan to build secondary steel components including stairs and platforms, and gravity-based foundations for wind turbines, respectively.

Barring unforeseen barriers, Empire and Sunrise Wind are expected to be operational by 2024.

Concerns

But large projects like these are fraught with hurdles both expected and unforeseen.

First, the projects will need a multiple permits, the denial of any one of which could mean a delay.

Offshore wind projects are also costly, at least initially, something the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin has pointed out here.

But that view was challenged by former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, the Director of the NY Offshore Wind Alliance, who responded to critics this week in Crain’s, writing:

“The State’s contract for the first two large-scale projects will add less than a dollar a month to New York ratepayer’s bills. But because offshore wind uses no fuel, it will result in health-related savings of $700 million dollars, will generate $3.2 billion in port and infrastructure-related investments and put 1,600 people to work in various high paying jobs.”

Critics also argue that the cost of wind power has been made even more expensive in New York by a requirement that awardees include project labor agreements in all contracts. The issue has so alarmed Brian Sampson, President of the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, that he has asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to look into it.

“We have contractors in New York that are very familiar with offshore wind projects. The project labor agreements put them in a position where they will not bid that work even though it’s their tax dollars that are paying for it,” he told Spectrum News.

Which is not to say that ABCNYS has a problem with renewables.

“Everybody supports the development of green energy. It’s good for New York. It’s good for the taxpayers. It’s good for the environment,” says Sampson.

“However the State of New York, which already subsidizes the cost of wind energy is going to make the situation much worse by forcing contractors to sign a PLA, thus eliminating potential bidders. And as we know when you reduce competition the price of the project will always go up.”

Other concerns around offshore wind include the Trump administration’s ambivalent reception, NIMBY, and the slow pace of renewable development in the state.

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2019-11-25T12:30:21-05:00