A consortium of companies related to the offshore wind industry has sent a letter to ranking members of various House committees, urging them to increase the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program’s budget to $750 million to help develop offshore wind ports.
The American Clean Power Association, American Association of Port Authorities, the American Waterways Operators, the National Ocean Industries Association, Dredging Contractors of America, the Business Network for Offshore Wind, and the Associated Federal Pilots and Docking Masters of Louisiana contributed to drafting the proposal.
According to the letter, an American Wind Energy Association March 2020 report, “U.S. Offshore Wind Power Economic Assessment,” found that the U.S. can support up to 45,000 offshore wind-related jobs and $14 billion in annual economic output over the next five years. To be able to meet the president’s clean energy goals, achieve local economic development, and create new offshore wind construction and operation jobs, significant port infrastructure is needed.
“We’re staring in the face of a once-in-a-generation opportunity for jobs and energy transformation,” says Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association. “We can’t solve this challenge by aiming small. Piecemeal approaches have failed in the past. It’s going to take bold strokes to move our country’s crumbling infrastructure into modernity to build a stronger, cleaner, modern economy.”
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has held 15 lease sales from Massachusetts to North Carolina for offshore wind development that already has brought $473 million to the U.S. Treasury. More competitive lease sales are currently being planned in the coming years for New York, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, the Gulf of Maine and Oregon.
The 15 active offshore wind lease areas and future areas to be auctioned need ports that have heavy-duty wharves, lay-down areas, manufacturing facilities, dredging and other improvements to meet the specific requirements of the offshore wind industry. Although offshore wind developers have already committed over $729.5 million in port infrastructure – and states have committed more than $692 million to support proposed projects in these lease areas – additional funds are needed.
Although 2021’s Appropriations Act enacted on Dec. 27, 2020, appropriated the Port Infrastructure Development Program $230 million, the letter urges Congress to increase the amount to $750 million for fiscal year 2021 to develop the offshore wind port infrastructure that will be needed to support the burgeoning industry.