By - Jim Vess

Offshore wind development could bring a $3.6 billion boon to Eastern seaboard state

Energize Weekly, September 12, 2018

Offshore wind power development could bring a $3.6 billion economic boon to five Eastern seaboard states, generating about 24,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent operations jobs, according to a study by BW Research.

“The U.S. offshore wind industry is poised for substantial growth, thanks to falling costs and increasing recognition by state and federal policy makers that there are tremendous economic benefits in harnessing clean, renewable energy offshore,” the analysis, which was done for the advocacy group Environmental Entrepreneurs, said.

The Department of Interior already has a pipeline of 28 projects for the region, which in total equal 23,735 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity.

There is only one operating offshore wind installation, the 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm, which came online in 2016. The project closest to completion is the 24-MW Fishermen’s Energy farm in New Jersey, which is being developed by EDF Energy Renewables.

The analysis is based on five seaboard states—New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina—each adding a 352-MW wind facility. The study calculated both the direct and indirect economic impacts.

In New Jersey, for example, expenditures during the construction phase were calculated for equipment and materials, labor installation, insurance, and development services such as engineering. The total expenditures were about $843 million, with about 56 percent going to out-of-state business.

BW Research estimated the total economic impact of the New Jersey offshore wind project at more than $702 million with 4,133 jobs. “For every $1.00 spent in the state in building an offshore wind farm, a total of $1.83 is generated in the state’s economy,” the analysis said.

Expenditures for the construction phase varied from $843 million in New Jersey to $993 million in South Carolina. Money spent outside the region ranged from $386 million in South Carolina to $619 million in North Carolina.

Total value added to states ranges from $14.7 million in North Carolina to $18.5 million in New Jersey. The overall economic benefits of operating a wind farm, including value added and wages, ranged from $26.9 million in North Carolina to $31.3 million in New Jersey.

The total economic value from construction through operation went from a low of $607 million in Virginia to a high of $888 million in South Carolina, which would see the most construction jobs, 5,647.

Developing offshore wind farms will also mesh with the other key coastal economic activities, according to the study.

“The country’s emerging offshore industry will add jobs and new economic opportunities to already robust coastal economies,” the analysis said. “In 2015, the ocean-related tourism and recreation industry in North and South Carolina, Virginia, New York, and New Jersey supported over 34,500 business establishments and 572,667 jobs, with $15.6 billion paid in wages.”

Atlantic fisheries also land catches valued at $582 million. “These two industries, critical to the region’s economy, are dependent on clean and healthy oceans,” the study said.

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