New Report Confirms Viability of U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

Washington, D.C. — Today, as Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act in Congress, Clean Energy States Alliance’s Offshore Wind Accelerator Project (OWAP) – along with the Center for American Progress (CAP), the Sierra Club, and the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative – released a jointly commissioned report that demonstrates how offshore wind can become cost competitive with electricity generated from natural gas by 2024, even without federal subsidies.

The analysis, titled A Learning Investment-based Analysis of the Economic Potential for Offshore Wind and conducted by the Brattle Group, also finds that building an American offshore wind industry would have minimal effect on ratepayers, a large majority of whom are willing to pay a small rate increase for homegrown clean energy that creates jobs, protects public health, and leads to greater energy independence.

“Offshore wind can provide the East Coast with a virtually limitless source of clean energy right in its own backyard, with zero fuel costs and without the need to build expensive land-based transmission lines through the region’s urban and rural landscapes,” said Mark Sinclair, executive director of Clean Energy States Alliance. “And the good news, as this analysis shows, is that offshore wind power — with scale-up — can become price competitive with carbon-based electricity resources very soon and without hardship to ratepayers’ wallets.”

In a first-of-its-kind in analysis of the broader economic impact of developing an entire offshore wind industry, the Brattle Group report finds that the national average monthly rate increase for consumers would be between $0.25 to $2.08. Polls in New York, Maryland, and other states have shown that solid majorities of voters are willing to pay a couple dollars more every month to support local offshore wind projects.

To provide a conservative estimate of the economic effects, the Brattle Group analysis does not include any subsidies such as the production tax credit or investment tax credit, both of which apply to offshore wind energy.

In the issue brief that accompanies this report, titled Making the Economic Case for Offshore Wind, author Michael Conathan, CAP’s Director of Ocean Policy, describes the current policy landscape and the positive results presented in the Brattle Group report while recommending that the Obama administration take steps to accelerate the “Smart from the Start Program,” roll back subsidies for mature and polluting energy industries, put a price on carbon, and swiftly enact the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act.

“America has been standing on the sidelines watching the rest of the world develop more than 4,000 megawatts of installed offshore wind capacity, while we have yet to begin construction on our first offshore turbine,” said Conathan. “The offshore wind bill introduced today by Sens. Carper and Collins would ensure that we can take advantage of the promise and opportunity of offshore wind to diversify our energy mix, while ensuring development will not burden ratepayers.”

OWAP will hold a webinar to discuss the report’s findings on Monday, March 11, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. EST. The webinar is free to attend, but registration is required. To learn more, and to register, please visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/881946832.

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Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is the only national nonprofit organization representing the collective voice of public clean energy funds. CESA provides information sharing, technical assistance services, and a collaborative network by coordinating multi-state efforts, leveraging funding for projects and research, and assisting clean energy programs with program development and evaluation.

The Offshore Wind Accelerator Project (OWAP), managed by CESA, is a national, collaborative effort to engage stakeholders in the private, public, and non-profit sectors around hands-on problem solving and barrier breaking to advance offshore wind in the U.S. To learn more, visit www.offshorewindworks.org.