Wind could meet much of Massachusetts and New England’s power needs in coming years
by Bonnie Bain
“Enough for us all.” These are the words on a delightful sunny poster in our baby’s room given to me by a Danish friend. Danes made the poster to educate and garner support for renewable energy. A pioneer and leading country in wind power, Denmark gets nearly 50% of its energy from turbines, much of it based off shore. Here in the US, our renewable energy consumption is only at 11% (that includes wind, solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and biomass combined).
New England’s offshore wind resources are among the best in the world.
In February, SAFE hosted an engaging conversation about the potential for wind energy along the New England coast, and what that could mean for our community. We were fortunate to have over 70 attendees who listened to a presentation from Amber Hewett, Senior Campaign Manager for Offshore Wind Energy at the National Wildlife Federation, and Jen Benson, former state representative for the 37th Middlesex District and now president of The Alliance for Business Leadership. Together they are chairing the Massachusetts for Offshore Wind Coalition, which is part of New England for Offshore Wind.
For years I’ve spent my time working in residential solar and more recently in commercial energy storage because I love being a part of our nation’s energy transition. Every moment felt purpose-driven as I helped a homeowner turn on their new solar system, convinced a town engineer to let the local grocery store get a permit to install a battery storage system, or in my early days, slapped solar on a roof myself through a nonprofit that installed solar free for low-income families. It was how I found hope for the future, with my anxieties about a dying planet and what it might mean for any future children. The past four years dimmed my light as I watched us stall out and lose our momentum for a clean and just energy transition, but luckily, here comes the sun! We’re seeing a shift back to investing in progress for our nation, and with the potential for a slice of that in our own backyard — or rather, our harbor.
New England’s offshore wind resources are among the best in the world, and Salem could very well be a part of the new industry. A recent report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center identifies Salem Harbor, and the Footprint site in particular, as well suited to supporting the offshore wind energy through operations and maintenance, as well as marshalling turbines prior to installation far out in the ocean.
Not only would this bring well-paid, local jobs, but it would bring resiliency and environmental justice to Salem, a community with a front row seat to rising sea levels and a substantial population of lower-income people of color who are often disproportionately harmed by pollution and rising tides. As wind power expands along our coastlines, communities like Salem, and particularly those most harmed by climate change, should be at the front of the line for the benefits of renewable energy.
You can join this conversation by learning more about wind on our coastline visit newenglandforoffshorewind.org. To get involved locally, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and to support wind at Salem harbor, provide the city with your feedback here.