October 11, 2022 ~
By Bayan Peikari and Mary Wong
After decades of global energy shortages, President Biden has set a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, enough to provide electricity to 10 million homes. “Together we’re stepping up. We’re about to build a better America,'' Biden said. “It's not just about the future. It’s about right now.'' We think the President’s efforts have potential for significant impact and that this program could help create new opportunities for a better America by moving towards a more green climate solution, through this new wind energy project.
Through the project known as the Federal State Offshore Wind Partnership, the White House has joined with eleven governors along the east coast to accelerate the wind industry in an effort to create greener energy and more jobs for American citizens that has global and national security implications. U.S. states joining in this project are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, who is among 11 governors in the partnership, said this initiative will help accelerate Rhode Island’s thriving offshore wind industry. One way Rhode Island, as well as the other states involved, can work to achieve their goals of lower climate emissions would be not only to receive federal funding, but to also partner and collaborate with different local NGOs and renewable energy networks to achieve such a goal. For example, the Center for Sustainable Energy, an NGO that is known for helping transform communities into more energy sustainable places to live, whether that be through wind or solar energy, could be an important player.
The first step of this project will involve enlarging the wind turbine manufacturing supply chain. By doing this, we could be expanding port capabilities and workforce development. The program assists the domestic shipbuilding industry, providing support for U.S. shipyards to modernize their facilities, to build and retrofit vessels, and to assist U.S shipowners to cost-effectively obtain domestically produced new vessels. The Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) Maritime Administration (MARAD) announced the designation of offshore wind vessels as Vessels of National Interest. It is expected that this designation will facilitate more offshore wind construction and prioritize applications for such projects for review and funding. This may help boost the American economy with new jobs, and potentially give the opportunity for U.S. shipyards to receive more attention and better funding for future endeavors. While the Federal State Offshore Wind Partnership offers new prospects for the future of the wind energy industry and greener energy for America, the Biden Administration has done other things to help with the wind industry, such as the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act. While this legislation may be known for its plan to hire new IRS agents, it has climate implications by focusing on solar energy, and involves another part of the U.S. government, the Department of Energy. One of the goals of the bill in this regard is to reduce our greenhouse gas level by 40 percent below what the 2005 levels were by the year 2030. Some of the funding of this bill will go towards home energy rebate programs, a grant program to make affordable housing more energy efficient and consumer tax credits to make solar energy more affordable. These kinds of partnerships between and among federal, state and local entities is necessary to move the needle; however, there are other stakeholders and civil society organizations to engage and maximize efficiency and effectiveness. A previous post in December 2021 on "Monitoring & Evaluating for U.S. Foreign Policy Outcomes Post COP26" speaks to some of these points. One important element of the bill is that it will lock in tax credits solely reserved for wind and solar energy for the next decade. This is a huge step in the direction of following the bill's goal of reducing greenhouse gas levels, as previous bills similar to this have generally only locked in tax credits for two or three years. In conclusion, with these efforts and others to come, there is a potential path of partnerships and collaboration in response to our energy crisis by reducing our carbon footprint while also helping create jobs for the economy to improve lives and livelihoods.