By Samantha Fields
By next year, if all goes according to plan, Massachusetts will start getting power from wind turbines some 35 miles off the coast for the first time. By the following year, Vineyard Wind, the first major offshore wind project in the country, should be producing enough electricity to power 400,000 homes and businesses. The Biden administration’s goal is to have enough offshore wind projects online by 2030 to power 10 million homes around the country — and create 77,000 jobs in the process.
“Jobs manufacturing 2,500-ton steel foundations that anchor these offshore wind farms to the sea’s floor,” President Joe Biden said last week at a press conference on the Massachusetts coast. “Jobs manufacturing a Jones Act vessel in Texas to service these offshore wind farms.”
The promise of lots of new, good-paying jobs is a central selling point with most renewable energy projects. And, for the Biden administration, with the clean energy transition in general.
“When I think about climate change,” the president frequently says, “I think jobs.”
But the reality is, it’s not always easy to find people for jobs in a new industry. In offshore wind, which is well-established overseas but just starting to get off the ground in the United States, “it’s a huge challenge,” said Jennifer Cullen, senior manager of labor relations and workforce development at Vineyard Wind.
“We are looking to get a workforce who has a lot of skills, but has not yet built massive offshore wind farms, integrated into the project. So the training between where our workforce’s current skill sets are and where they need to be in order to construct offshore wind, there’s a gap there that we’re working to address.”
In Massachusetts, Vineyard Wind is working with local labor unions, colleges and universities, companies, organizations and the state, which is investing millions of dollars in workforce training, to identify where those gaps are and figure out how to fill them.
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