July 21, Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) rolled out legislation to provide critical financial incentives for the investment in offshore wind energy. Joining the Senators as cosponsors are Senators Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).
The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act improves market stability by providing investment tax credits for the first 3,000 MW of offshore wind facilities placed into service. These tax credits are important because there is a much longer lead time for the permitting and construction of new offshore wind turbine technologies, compared to onshore wind energy. Companies awarded the tax credit have five years to install the project. It will not be possible to combine the tax credit with other related tax credits.
"Offshore wind is an American resource that has enormous electricity generation potential that is more consistent than onshore wind while located adjacent to major cities," said Senator Snowe, "This legislation provides a clear and consistent tax credit that will put our nation on the path to achieving our goal of operating 20 percent wind energy by 2030 and develop an incentive for energy companies to invest in this breakthrough technology. I applaud Senator Carper's leadership in developing this legislation and look forward to working with my colleagues on the Finance Committee to enact this bill into law." Senator Snowe is a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee which provides oversight over tax issues.
"This legislation is essential to encourage the continued growth of this fledgling industry," said Sen. Carper. "Guaranteeing these tax incentives for the first 3,000 MW will spur the industry to get these projects up and running, and encourage further development even in these challenging economic times. This support will allow companies like NRG Bluewater Wind to continue to invest in clean, stable wind energy off our nation's shores in places like Delaware. Harnessing our nation's offshore wind will give us reliable, clean energy; create good-paying American jobs in manufacturing and construction; and reduce harmful pollution that damages our lungs and impacts our climate."
The potential environmental and economic benefits for the US are impressive. The University of Delaware calculates the winds off the Atlantic Coast have the potential of generating 330 Giga-watts of power. That is equal to approximately 300 nuclear or large coal power plants. The University of Maine estimates that as many as 15,000 new jobs can be created by reaching the official state goals of 5 GW of offshore wind.
"Offshore wind has great promise to generate tremendous amounts of clean, affordable energy," said Senator Menendez. "This targeted, temporary incentive will be critical in jumpstarting the industry and creating thousands of jobs."
"An investment in offshore wind energy is an investment in our country's economic future and national security," said Senator Coons. "I've seen the opportunities from the NRG Bluewater Wind project off Delaware's coast and understand the hurdles this company and many other developers are facing to get their projects off the ground. However, I'm encouraged by this bipartisan legislation to expand offshore wind energy through targeted tax incentives. By tapping the offshore wind energy sector, we are further ensuring our country remains a leader in clean, renewable energy development that will create a wealth of new high-tech jobs in the region."
"While offshore wind has the potential to create good jobs, limit our dependence on foreign sources of energy, and reduce carbon pollution, the industry needs the long-term planning horizon this bill would provide," said Senator Whitehouse. "Sites such as Quonset Point in Rhode Island stand ready to create jobs by building turbines for offshore wind farms, creating a new domestic manufacturing industry and bringing much-needed economic development."
There are offshore wind projects proposed and being permitted in Delaware, Rhode Island, and New Jersey Massachusetts, Maine and the Great Lakes states.