There is no doubt that America must add offshore wind to its energy infrastructure tool kit. The ability of the United States to successfully compete in the global economy requires that we access all reliable sources of energy, including oil, gas, coal, solar, and nuclear, to power our cities, homes, and domestic businesses.
Billions of dollars have been spent securing offshore wind farm leases, and millions more spent or committed to retrofitting our ports, supporting new manufacturing facilities, workforce training, and countless studies. Accordingly, elected officials and states have passed legislation to prop up what we in the Metal Trades believe to be an essential industry.
And yet, despite all these efforts and examples of public support, press announcements, seminars, and spending, one stark fact is clear:
To date, these efforts have only installed seven towers in the waters off our coast: five 3-megawatt towers off of Block Island and two 6-megawatt towers off of Virginia. The Block Island towers were staged from England, and the Virginia Towers were staged from Halifax, Canada.
Our ports, save Norfolk, have not changed in size or location. Our maritime laws haven’t changed either. We drill offshore oil wells, install production platforms, and lay down the underwater grid to bring the oil and gas onshore. These are highly complicated endeavors at which America excels.
Why aren’t we moving ahead faster in installing offshore wind towers?
Why haven’t foreign leaseholders ordered the critical US-built marine assets needed to accomplish the task?
And more importantly, why aren’t our utility companies, government agencies, and regulators holding foreign leaseholders accountable for ordering and building the critical US-built marine assets needed to accomplish the task?
Undoubtedly, our nation will have to learn this complicated business from our European partners. It’s quite obvious, that for the foreseeable future, the US will have to source the majority of the offshore wind tower components from foreign manufacturers. And even supplement the labor force while training a highly skilled workforce of Americans to produce the necessary components and install them in the ocean.
YET one simple fact remains, until the government, business, and labor put their heads together to build the necessary domestically produced marine assets, the dream of a viable offshore wind industry will not become a reality.
The maritime affiliates that comprise the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, stand ready and able to supply and train the workforce needed to build the Jones Act marine assets required to deliver the most critical pieces of the puzzle.
America’s Jones Act Fleet. Built, Operated, and Owned By American Workers and Industry!