Recent OSW solicitation awards show economic development potential of clean energy sector

Attentive Energy and Leading Light Wind — the winners of the latest offshore wind solicitation — are not just intending to bring more than 3,700 megawatts of clean energy to the state — they are bringing jobs and economic development.

The projects are also slated to produce $6.8 billion in economic benefits to the state, including 4,350 new jobs in direct construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms, jobs in the offshore wind supply chain and in related fields.

That was one of the biggest takeaways during a recent event in Sicklerville that highlighted the awards.

The event was hosted by the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters at its state-of-the-art Commercial Dive School facility in Sicklerville, where it has built an elite program that has become the go-to resource for training members from across the building trades unions for the vast work opportunities being produced by the growing offshore wind industry.

The two projects aim to produce new jobs in direct construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms, jobs in the offshore wind supply chain and in related fields. Projects have also committed to:

  • Establishment of New Jersey-based Operations & Maintenance facilities;
  • Marshaling of both projects at the New Jersey Wind Port;
  • Anchor orders from a tower manufacturing facility to be constructed at the Wind Port;
  • $164 million in funding for EEW expansion;
  • Funding and support for a variety of other educational, workforce development and innovation initiatives, including several with an environmental justice focus, through New Jersey-based educational and nonprofit organizations, and over $60 million for environmental and fisheries initiatives combined; and
  • $94 million commitment for direct assistance to 200,000 low-income, energy-burdened households by reducing their monthly electricity bill increase by 50% to support an equitable transition — a key program from Leading Light Wind.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who has been a huge proponent of the industry, obviously was thrilled.

“These latest awards reaffirm New Jersey’s commitment to a strong and thriving offshore wind industry and the incredible economic and environmental benefits it will bring to our state, for both this generation and the next,” he said. “Together with Atlantic Shores 1, these projects will bring us closer to achieving 100% clean energy by 2035, create thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic opportunity in our coastal communities and beyond, and guarantee that New Jerseyans have access to clean, affordable energy produced right here in our state and powered by our labor union workforce. Today, we are proud to partner with Leading Light Wind and Attentive Energy in the march towards New Jersey’s clean energy future.”

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Christine Guhl-Sadovy agreed.

“Today, we demonstrate once again that New Jersey remains a growing — and nation-leading — offshore wind hub,” she said at the ceremony. “In addition to producing significant environmental and economic impacts, the projects approved by the board last month will generate thousands of good-paying union jobs as we continue our determined pursuit of a 100% clean energy economy by 2035.”

Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan said clean energy is economic development.

“This growing clean energy sector has already started to create good-paying jobs,” he said. “I appreciate the Eastern Atlantic Regional Society of Carpenters for investing in training programs to ensure our state’s residents have the skills needed to enter the field and reap the economic benefits of the industry. The future of offshore wind in New Jersey remains bright.”

Wes Jacobs, Leading Light Wind project director, agreed.

“Leading Light Wind is charting an American-led clean energy future for New Jersey — and we’re not doing it alone,” he said. “We are working collaboratively with industry partners and with local communities, organized labor, policymakers and other stakeholders across New Jersey to deliver community-driven clean energy development for the Garden State. We will uphold a high standard for responsible development and ensure we are creating family-sustaining jobs, investing in tangible benefits for communities, and improving public health.”

Damian Bednarz, managing director of Attentive Energy, seconded the thought.

“We especially recognize the importance of union labor and good-paying jobs that the offshore wind sector will bring, and we are committed to ensuring that the benefits of this project reach every corner of this state,” he said.

William Sproule, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters executive secretary-treasurer, said the awards are a win-win for the state.

“At the EAS carpenters union, we believe in the work opportunities provided to our members through the arrival of offshore wind projects in New Jersey,” he said. “That’s why we have invested in a state-of-the-art dive school to train our members in the latest techniques and safety standards for underwater construction.”