BlueGreen Alliance | From NWF: The Unifying Appeal of Offshore Wind Power

From NWF: The Unifying Appeal of Offshore Wind Power

The National Wildlife Federation partnered with the BlueGreen Alliance and the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council to bring more than 100 leaders in labor and workforce development out to the Block Island Wind Farm to witness the debut project in action.

June 16, 2017

The following blog post by Amber Hewett is cross-posted from the National Wildlife Federation. 

Now that America’s first offshore wind power project is up and running, it’s time to get out on the water and soak in the massive clean energy opportunity we’re just beginning to seize. On Tuesday, National Wildlife Federation partnered with the BlueGreen Alliance and the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council to bring more than 100 leaders in labor and workforce development out to the Block Island Wind Farm to witness the  debut  project in action. The tour was covered by several local news outlets, including the Boston Globe, the Cape Cod Times, and the Springfield Republican.

NWF advocates for the responsible development of offshore wind power as a critical climate change solution with abundant untapped clean energy potential. We work closely with developers, government officials, local ocean users, and community members to ensure that coastal and marine wildlife are considered and protected every step of the way. The Block Island Wind Farm serves as a model that we now hope to see the industry grow from.

America’s first five offshore wind turbines began generating power off the coast of Rhode Island just months ago. While producing enough clean, local energy for 17,000 homes, they also serve as a critical opportunity to show what’s possible in U.S. waters. They were developed with the highest standards of wildlife protection in place , and they created over 300 Rhode Island jobs in the process.

The unmatched clean energy potential and the thousands of workers needed to bring it to fruition make offshore wind power a unifying force between labor and environmental leaders.

Here are a few reactions from those on board

Kim Glas, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance:

Kim Glas addressing the crowd. Photo by NWF

“It was incredible to see the work done by so many skilled union members and that was the result of years of collaboration between labor, environmental organizations, industry and key government officials and entities.  It’s a testament of what is possible across the northeast and beyond when organizations work together. We are also really excited about the possibilities that offshore wind offers in terms of creating good paying, high-quality union jobs in the manufacturing and construction industries over the long-term.”

Scott Duhamel, Secretary Treasurer, Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council, Rhode Island:

Scott Duhamel (left) deep in conversation during Tuesday’s tour. Photo by NWF

“While the process was a long and hard fought journey (six years), the end result was truly satisfying: Close to 300 jobs for local unionized craftsman who came out of 10 separate Building Trades Locals, who worked for 30 or so unionized contractors and sub-contractors. We, at the RI Building and Construction Trades Council, are fiercely proud of our initial advocacy that lead to the great end results of putting the first wind turbines in America’s waters, and even prouder that our member’s skills were utilized in making and completing the groundbreaking project, and hopefully, helping to jumpstart a whole new industry.”

George Nee, President, Rhode Island AFL-CIO:

“When you look at this, you see history, you see success and you see perseverance,” he said. “This is labor, business, government and the environmental movement getting together to do what’s right for jobs, what’s right for the environment and what’s right for our kids and grandkids.”

Craig A. Pinkham, President, Utility Workers Union of America Local 369, Massachusetts:

Craig Pinkham and the UWUA crew enjoying the view of the turbines.

“The clean energy sector is growing rapidly and the Block Island Wind Farm is a historic project that will generate affordable and reliable clean energy. Just as important, this project is spurring economic growth and new jobs with good wages and benefits — critical opportunities for highly skilled workers like ours. The offshore wind industry offers tremendous promise and we’re invested in the success of this project and others like it.”

Ellen Redmond, International Representative, IBEW, Third District, New York:

“The Block Island Wind Farm is an amazing feat of engineering and construction.  At first sight of the BIWF it became very apparent to me that working in this industry is not for the faint-hearted.  I am so proud of my brothers and sisters in the IBEW, and all the people who helped build these beautiful machines so that we may benefit from a cleaner source of energy for generations to come.”

Luke Gordon, Staff Representative, United Steelworkers, New Jersey:

Luke Gordon (center) on Tuesday’s tour.

“I was thrilled to take part in the recent tour of the Block Island Wind Farm.  It was truly exciting to see the potential for developing zero emissions renewable energy while creating good community-based jobs in the manufacturing and construction industries.  Offshore Wind has a tremendous potential for the future, and is an important opportunity to create a true ‘just transition’ for industrial workers.”

Todd Vachon, President, United Auto Workers Local 6950, Connecticut:

“This is an issue our members care a lot about. We’re in favor of infrastructure development to employ Connecticut workers, and we consider climate change a major health and safety issue for all working people and their families.”

Heading home after another successful tour! Photo by NWF

Let’s make it happen!

Building offshore wind power at the scale needed to transform our energy future, combat climate change, and create thousands of U.S. jobs requires action at all levels of government. Together, we can show our state and federal leaders that offshore wind power is of urgent importance, and ensure that the Block Island Wind Farm is the start of a new energy era we can all be proud to have a hand in building.