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 | Sierra Club Maine | Maine State Building and Construction Trades Council
June 7, 2023 (Augusta, ME) – A bill to jumpstart a new offshore wind industry for Maine has been approved by the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee and now heads to the full Legislature for consideration.
LD 1895, An Act Regarding the Procurement of Energy from Offshore Wind Resources, will generate a historic investment in affordable and reliable clean energy to power Maine’s homes, businesses, and transportation.
The groundbreaking bill includes strong labor standards to ensure new offshore wind jobs are well-paying and family-sustaining, resources to protect the rich array of wildlife in the Gulf of Maine, and key provisions from the fishing and lobstering industry to incentivize offshore wind development outside key fishing grounds.
The opportunity presented by responsible offshore wind development has brought together a winning coalition of labor and conservation groups, who urged the full Legislature to pass the bill quickly so Maine can take advantage of the billions of dollars in private sector investment that would flow into the state’s ports, communities, and workforce.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a whole new industry for Maine that will buffer us against volatile energy prices, create thousands of new jobs, and provide the clean energy we need to power the future,” said Jack Shapiro, Climate & Clean Energy Director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine. “The bill was carefully crafted using input from a wide variety of voices that are all invested in protecting the shared resources of the Gulf of Maine while taking the steps needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change on our lands and waters.”
“Maine needs offshore wind power, and we need offshore wind power that’s developed responsibly. That’s exactly what this bill does,” said Kelt Wilska, Energy Justice Manager at Maine Conservation Voters. “We have the opportunity to launch a new, affordable energy source, grow good-paying jobs for our workers, and to do so without compromising Maine values. We urge the Legislature to pass this bill and support this transformational new industry.”
“The Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies in any ocean ecosystem, and we must take immediate action to protect our environment,” said Eliza Donoghue, Maine Audubon’s Director of Advocacy. “Our coalition is confident that appropriately sited and operated offshore wind development can co-exist with Gulf of Maine wildlife and the marine habitats they rely on.”
“Today, the Committee sent a strong and unequivocal message that Maine refuses to build this industry on the backs of exploited labor, nor will they chase workers from their job sites as it relates to our sisters and brothers on the water,” noted Jason J. Shedlock of the Laborers’ International Union and President of the Maine State Building & Construction Trades Council. “The result of this broad and diverse coalition’s informed, comprehensive, and collaborative process is a bill that truly puts Maine, its workers and its environment – first. As LD 1895 gains further momentum and heads to the Senate, elected officials in Augusta should take note of this unprecedented demonstration of solidarity, and understand fully that the people of Maine simply will not settle for anything less.”
“The Committee’s action today underscores what those of us who work on the water have been saying all along: if offshore wind comes to Maine, we must set high standards and do all we can to protect our fisheries and our communities,” said Virginia Olsen, Maine Lobstering Union Local 207 Executive Liaison and Political Director. “This unlikely coalition of labor, environmentalists, social justice organizations and the Mainers I’m privileged to represent, have spoken loud and clear: this can only be done if we work together, engage those who are impacted, and navigate these challenges together. LD 1895 is designed to do just that.”
“This bill asks for more than the ticking of boxes,” said Amy Eshoo, Director of Maine Climate Action Now. “Provisions for workforce, supplier, and investor diversity mean that across the board Mainers will have opportunities to take part in the growth of this new economy. Engagement ensures that everyone participates from the beginning, and throughout the process, in more than just meetings; they are part of the process and part of the solution. No community is left behind with this legislation.”
“We are grateful to see legislation move forward that will ensure offshore wind plays a critical role in meeting Maine’s climate and clean energy goals, while boosting the economy and providing vital safeguards for the environment, fishing industry, tribes, and local communities,” said Steve Clemmer, director of energy research and analysis at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We look forward to working with stakeholders across the board to ensure all of the critical goals in the legislation are achieved quickly and equitably.”
Maine has positioned itself as a national leader on climate with a comprehensive statewide Climate Action Plan, bipartisan emissions reduction targets, and strong clean energy policies that have driven record growth in heat pump and solar adoption. A proposed goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040 would continue this progress.
BACKGROUND ON LD 1895:
The Governor’s Energy Office (GEO) 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.
As amended, the legislation sets a goal and procurement schedule for 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy installed by 2040, which can be reevaluated and increased periodically by GEO.
GEO will also lead a public stakeholder process that will inform developer plan requirements for stakeholder engagement, economic and community benefits, diversity, equity, and inclusion in employment and contracting, and fisheries and wildlife research, monitoring, and mitigation.
The bill requires a request for comments from each federally recognized tribe in the state and the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission in crafting these plans. It will enact top recommendations from Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap, including establishing strong standards for wildlife, fisheries, and environmental monitoring and mitigation.
Additionally, the bill includes a provision negotiated with lobstering groups to avoid conflicts within Lobster Management Area 1, a key fishing ground.
The bill faces further votes in the House and the Senate.