Omnibus Wind Energy Bill on Governor’s Desk

(August 11, 2022) A bill awaiting Governor Charlie Baker’s signature would allow cities to buy wind power directly from offshore wind companies, as well as fund workforce training at high schools and universities.

The omnibus bill includes six different bills, including one sponsored by State Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D-Woods Hole).

“This bill will create huge opportunities for jobs and economic development in a way that doesn’t plunder the ocean, but in a way that is sustainable and allows us to have a livable future,” he said. Fernandes said.

“In terms of economic development, the state spends all this money on biosciences. If you go to Kendall Square in Cambridge, it’s now the global mecca of biosciences. The investment we make in offshore wind is very similar to the state investment in biosciences.

The bill would require that at least 1% of the cost of an offshore wind project be paid into a labor research and development fund. These funds would be administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

Fernandes said that Vineyard Wind — approved for the state’s first offshore wind farm 14 miles southwest of Nantucket — is working to build a facility at Vineyard Haven that would create 50 local jobs year-round.

“This is unheard of in our economy,” he said. “You’re going to need a lot of people who are there to serve the wind industry and those are sustainable jobs all year round.

“We want to make sure we’re doing things right. There are incentives there dealing with unions and wage issues in effect and incentives to make sure there are benefits for the community.

The Clean Energy Omnibus Bill (H5060) passed in the House 146-7 and in the Senate 38-2. Action on the bill by Governor Baker is expected by today, but did not occur before press time.

A press release from Fernandes said the bill will “update existing offshore wind laws to improve economic opportunity, generate labor and workforce development.” work and improve the network infrastructure”.

Fernandes, who represents Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties, sat down with the editors of The Investigator and the Mirror this week to talk about a number of issues, including his support for wind power.

“I come to this as a millennial who knows we’re not going to have a livable planet if we don’t embrace clean energy quickly,” he said. “And I’m deeply pissed off that no one has really done anything for a generation. We’ve known that for 50 years and in those 50 years, we have more than doubled the CO2 that we knowingly put into the atmosphere.

“And so, my generation, my children, will face the consequences, and a lot of people will die because of it. So, I come to it from this angle. That said, I think there are things that can be adjusted in these projects to meet local needs.

An island group called Nantucket Residents Against Turbines (ACK RATS) recently filed a lawsuit against the Federal Office of Ocean Energy Management, claiming that in approving the Vineyard Wind offshore project, it failed to take into account the full effect it will have on the endangered North. Atlantic right whale.

Fernandes said he was able to add language to the bill requiring “companies to have complete environmental information and fisheries mitigation plans with a particular focus on limiting impacts on the endangered North Atlantic right whale. The legislation also creates task forces to give the fishing industry a seat at the table with oversight power over the industry.

While environmental considerations are important, the need to address climate change is overwhelming, Fernandes said.

“Yes, we can consider things, but we have no choice but to adopt offshore wind,” he said. “This (Federal waters 14 miles southwest of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard) is the windiest place in mainland America. This is our only chance to achieve 100% renewable energy and to meet our climate targets to reach net zero by 2050 (required by legislation passed a year and a half ago) and in fact, scientists say we need to increase that timeline a bit. earlier.

If the bill is signed into law by Baker, a long-term need will be to modernize the state’s electrical grid and invest in storage capacity. The bill creates a committee to facilitate these upgrades.

“The technology (for increased storage capacity) is improving rapidly, but we’re not there yet,” Fernandes said.