BOSTON (SHNS) – Gov. Charlie Baker and governors from eight other states poised to benefit environmentally and economically from the emerging offshore wind sector sent President Joe Biden a letter on Friday outlining their thoughts and recommendations for keeping the momentum going in the fledgling field.
Biden’s administration has moved quickly to advance offshore wind projects, namely the Vineyard Wind I project that last month got the federal go-ahead it had been waiting about two years to receive, and Baker’s administration has cheered the president’s swift action.
Vineyard Wind, which is expected to deliver 800 megawatts of wind-generated power to Massachusetts by 2023, is on track to be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States. Mayflower Wind, an 804-MW project, is also under contract to deliver power to Massachusetts.
And an upcoming state solicitation seeks a project of up to 1,600 MW that can come online by the end of the decade.
“Realization of the offshore wind opportunity depends crucially on several variables, including the pace and uniformity of the federal permitting process, the degree of regional coordination among states, the amount of available space in federal lease areas, the potential impacts on marine resources, and the availability of supporting infrastructure to deliver high-voltage power from project areas to the mainland,” the group of governors wrote. “As such, we aim to collaborate across our states by consulting with each other on permitting challenges, natural resource consideration, identifying opportunities to coordinate schedules, and aligning construction timelines to meet states’ respective clean energy targets.”
In the letter, the governors suggested that the feds establish a schedule for identifying and auctioning new offshore lease areas to keep pace with the increasingly ambitious climate goals set by states like Massachusetts.
They also asked the president to ensure his administration provides “additional federal consultation with the states and increased regional leadership on addressing environmental, fishing, and maritime concerns during and after construction of facilities.”
The continued development of the offshore wind sector is seen as crucial to meeting the new climate goals Massachusetts has adopted, specifically the requirement to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. By then, Baker administration officials expect to have 25 gigawatts of offshore wind (equivalent to about 31 Vineyard Winds) operating off the coast and will have to hit a pace in the 2030s of bringing about 1 GW of new wind power online each year to get there.
Also signed onto the letter are Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.