On Tuesday, Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and three other senators introduced legislation to create a grant program for offshore wind educational and career training.
The legislation would direct the Department of Energy to work with stakeholders to identify the offshore wind industry’s educational and career training needs before setting up a grant program to address those needs. The grants could be used for a variety of activities, including current worker training, training in conjunction with an apprenticeship, individual tuition assistance for a postsecondary credential, or other activities to address the workforce needs of the offshore wind industry.
The grant program would be authorized at $25 million a year from fiscal years 2020 through 2024. The DOE says that the U.S. could install a total of 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects by 2030 and 86,000 MW by 2050, creating tens of thousands of jobs in coastal communities along the Atlantic Coast.
Joining Sen. Markey in introducing the legislation were senators Tom Carper, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. Representative William Keating, D-Mass., introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“America’s clean energy future is blowing in the offshore wind,” said Senator Markey. “Offshore wind will create thousands of new jobs in New England, and we need to provide the cutting-edge skills in the jobs of tomorrow that can meet the changing needs of the workforce. We can harness the hard work and ingenuity of our workers as we harness this exciting new clean energy source that will grow our economy and help combat climate change.”
“Deploying offshore wind energy will lead to cleaner air, more reliable power and good-paying clean energy jobs,” said Senator Carper. “As our country’s offshore wind industry accelerates, the Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would ensure American workers have the opportunity to take advantage of this new economic opportunity. Making smart investments in our workforce today – like the ones made in this legislation – takes us one step closer to the fair, clean energy economy of the future. I’m excited to join senators Markey, Collins, and Whitehouse in this bipartisan effort.”
“Within 50 miles of the U.S. coast, there is enough offshore wind capacity to power our country four times over. Thanks to UMaine’s leadership in offshore wind energy research through Aqua Ventus, a project I have strongly supported, Maine is particularly well-suited to benefit from the growth of this industry, which has the potential to support more than 2,000 good-paying jobs in our state,” said Senator Collins. “In order to harness this substantial supply of clean energy, a coordinated approach between businesses, universities, community colleges, and government is necessary. Our bipartisan legislation will help bolster job training programs to assist Americans seeking careers in the offshore wind industry.”
“Rhode Island is already reaping the economic benefits of our first-in-the-nation offshore wind farm,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We need to be ready to meet the needs of this rapidly growing industry with workers who have the right skills and training. I’m excited to support this bipartisan bill to help Rhode Island offshore wind continue to thrive.”
“At a moment in our history when we are at a true crossroads with climate change and the need for clean energy, we are proud in Southeastern Massachusetts to be developing one of the first off-shore wind energy sites in the country,” said Rep. Keating. “The jobs created here will coexist with our traditional economy, benefit new industries, and improve many communities while protecting our environment in a responsible way. There are plenty of hard-working Americans who are ready, willing, and able to train in the wind industry, which has a proven track record of creating long-term, high-paying jobs. The legislation I filed in the House and by my friend Senator Markey in the Senate will help us meet our goal of ensuring that we have a well-trained, local workforce ready on day one.”
“America’s energy workers are second to none, and over the next decade we’ll need to fill tens of thousands of new jobs to manufacture, build and operate the first large-scale U.S. offshore wind projects,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would make a smart investment in the American workforce, essential to realize offshore wind’s nearly $70 billion revenue opportunity for American supply chain businesses and arming U.S. workers with the skills needed to succeed in rewarding offshore wind careers.”
“The offshore wind industry holds great potential for job creation and economic growth and will drive down the emissions that cause climate change,” said Mike Williams, interim co-executive director, BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to prepare our workers to be ready to seize the opportunities coming out of this growing field—while also ensuring the jobs created by the industry are good-paying, safe jobs. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will do just that.”