LI unions and business leaders discuss offshore wind opportunities
Long Island wind farms will create at least 6,800 jobs with average annual salaries of $ 100,000.
That’s according to NYSERDA – New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – the state agency overseeing five offshore wind projects currently under development. NYSERDA aims to achieve 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035 – a target set to tackle current threats from climate change.
“Climate change is already here, and it’s happening in every community, every zip code,” said Liz Shuler, president of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industry Organizations (AFL-CIO). “We need to make the transition to a clean energy future. The question is “how?” And I would say the answer is with good union jobs, and that’s why we’re building a labor movement that will respond now.
The Sunrise Wind Farm, planned 30 miles off the east coast of Long Island, is New York’s first wind project to be completed as early as 2023. This project and Empire Wind 1, which is slated to 14 miles south of Jones Beach, are still in the permitting phase prior to the start of fabrication, construction and installation. These are currently the two that are furthest along in the process of several years out of the five planned wind farms. Combined with three others, the projects are expected to generate $ 12.1 billion for New York’s economy.
Many Long Island union leaders, environmentalists and business owners see wind power as a “win, win, win” for all parties involved: workers, the climate and the economy, they expressed during the conference. ‘a recent wind energy conference organized by Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove).
At the conference, a representative from NYSERDA, a union official, business leaders, representatives from the wind power companies Equinor and Orstead, and many more gathered and spoke to explain how all of these stakeholders would come together to make wind power – and the jobs that come with it – a reality.
Adriene Esposito, president of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, however, noted that there is still public opposition to wind power, including concerns about the costs and impacts on communities. She referred to an initiative she helped launch, Wind Works Long Island, which raises awareness and spreads the word about community discussions about these projects.
“We are working closely with our working brothers and sisters in this group,” Esposito said. “Opponents come out, we need you to come out too. We have to go to these license hearings. “
The projects, once fully approved, would create thousands of jobs for several groups of workers – manufacturers, marine workers, turbine technicians, maintenance crews, construction workers, and more.
To transition people to these jobs in a whole new industry for the country, New York has set up training programs at SUNY Maritime College and SUNY Farmingdale. Union leaders expressed the need for a healthy transition for workers to be retrained in new equipment.
“We recognize that it has to be more than something we say, it has to be action around the climate, the economy and responsibility,” said Chris Eriksen, Jr., deputy commercial director of Local 3 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). “The scientific proof is there that if we do this right we will change the world for the better. “
The conference also touched on the manufacturing supply chain on Long Island and how Long Island aerospace companies and other companies could benefit from their involvement in wind power projects. It’s here that Ross Gould, vice president of supply chain development at Business Network for Offshore Wind, intervened. The non-profit organization has a diverse coalition of over 400 members involved in labor, supply chain, environment and academics. It manages a database of companies called “Supply Chain Connect” to which companies can register to express their interest in contributing to wind projects.
“The network tracks business activity and policies that impact offshore wind 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year,” Gould said. “We also have other tools: we hold regular industry training events, we hold our annual International Partnership Forum, which brings together companies, original equipment manufacturers, to discuss how they can work together. We are also in the process of developing a supply chain roadmap.
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