Offshore Wind Industry to Provide Massive Benefits to Economy, Climate in Maine

Maine Audubon | Maine Labor Climate Council | Natural Resources Council of Maine | Union of Concerned Scientists | Maine Conservation Voters | Maine Climate Action Now | Iron Workers Local 7 | Laborers’ International Union Local 327

Environmental, labor groups advocate for clean energy development, responsible offshore wind industry in LD 1895 public hearing

(Augusta, ME) – A winning coalition of environmental, labor and fisheries advocates today called on the Legislature to pass LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources. When implemented, the legislation would create new jobs, stabilize electricity costs, and protect the shared resources of the Gulf of Maine through the responsible development of offshore wind.

“Offshore wind development is an untapped market with incredible potential for Maine,” said Sen. Mark Lawrence, the bill’s sponsor and Senate Chair of the Energy, Utility and Technology Committee. “The incredible potential energy output would help pave the way for Maine to be a national leader in renewable energy, and set us on the right path for a greener Mainer in the coming years. This is an opportunity that we don’t want to miss, and the time to act is now. This opportunity will create more well paying jobs for hard working Mainers, and we want to make sure that the conversations continue with our heritage lobstering industry, to ensure they experience as little disruption as possible.”

The legislation would enact top recommendations from Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap, including setting a schedule for procuring large amounts of clean energy and establishing strong standards for wildlife, fisheries, and environmental monitoring and mitigation. The bill includes a provision negotiated with lobstering groups to avoid conflicts within Lobster Management Area 1, a key fishing ground.

“We need offshore wind power, and we need offshore wind power that’s developed responsibly,” said Kelt Wilska, Energy Justice Manager at Maine Conservation Voters. “We have the opportunity to accelerate our transition to clean energy, use Maine-based technology and talent and provide good, family-sustaining jobs. If we act now, Maine can set high environmental, equity and labor standards for this emerging clean energy industry.”

“If offshore wind is coming to the Gulf of Maine, we have to explore and act upon any and every opportunity to mitigate the impacts to our fishery,” said Virginia Olsen, Maine Lobstering Union Local 207 Executive Liaison and Political Director. “This legislation – which strongly incentivizes the development of offshore wind outside of Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA 1) – is the best opportunity we have to protect lobstering and fishing communities.”

Maine has taken decisive action to address climate change, with bipartisan agreement on  greenhouse gas reduction and clean energy targets, a comprehensive Climate Action Plan, and a strong Community Resilience Partnership, but an ongoing dependence on dirty and outdated energy sources continues to drive up costs for Maine families and businesses.

“The Gulf of Maine has experienced one of the fastest rates of warming of any ocean ecosystem, with data from 2022 showing the 2nd warmest year on record,” said Sarah Haggerty, Conservation Biologist for Maine Audubon. “Appropriately-sited and operated floating offshore wind development can provide clean energy and climate benefits with a low risk to Gulf wildlife.”

“Jumpstarting the development of offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine will strengthen our economy by stabilizing energy costs and investing in communities,” said Jack Shapiro, Climate & Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “We have a chance to build a new home-grown clean energy source Maine can be proud of, one that addresses climate change, builds the clean energy future that Maine deserves, and protects our shared resources for future generations.”

The Governor’s Energy Office engaged a wide variety of stakeholders – including representatives from coastal communities, fisheries, business, conservation, clean energy, organized labor, and state government – in a multiyear process to develop the Maine Offshore Wind Roadmap.

LD 1895 is the culmination of this work and builds on the Roadmap’s framework of responsible offshore wind development by requiring strong labor protections and fostering inclusive benefits for Maine’s most vulnerable communities. A central provision of the bill would set a competitive bidding schedule for procuring 2.8 GW of offshore wind over the next 12 years, helping to stimulate billions of dollars in investment in Maine’s communities and ports.

“The united position of this broad coalition is not based on opinion – it’s based on fact, science and best practices,” said Jason J. Shedlock, President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council, Organizer and Vice President/ Secretary-Treasurer of the Laborers’ International Union, Local 327. “We know that the only way to accomplish the governor’s climate goals is to procure this kind of energy. The only way to procure this kind of energy is to build it in a way that has been successfully demonstrated elsewhere. And that way is under labor agreements – accessible by and to all – that not only guarantee the results of the end product, but also guarantee the opportunities for Mainers to earn a good living. As the governor has said, ‘Maine Won’t Wait’ when it comes to combating climate change. I’d also add that ‘Maine Won’t Succeed’ without the approach laid out in LD 1895.”

A public hearing on LD 1895 was held on May 18 and a work session will be scheduled in the coming weeks before the Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee. Full testimony from today’s public hearing will be found here.