Co-chairs testify before Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy
Co-chairs of SAFE, Pat Gozemba and Jim Mulloy, testified before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy (TUE) on Friday, May 19, in support of House Bill 3161, An Act Strengthening Massachusetts as the National Leader in Offshore Wind, and Senate Bill 2169, An Act to Expand Offshore Wind Development in the Commonwealth. The bills, sponsored by Representative Dylan Fernandes and Senator Marc Pacheco respectively, would expand the state’s procurement of offshore wind (OSW) power to 12,000 megawatts by 2030.
As Jim Mulloy notes in his testimony, expanding procurement is essential to meeting our clean energy needs:
Massachusetts alone will need 23 GW of OSW to reach our goal of net zero by 2050. SAFE believes now is the time to invest in OSW and that sending a signal to developers is important. The era of fossil fuels is over and the future of energy is renewable. SAFE believes these bills need to be enacted in advance of the 2024 lease auction to send a signal to both developers and BOEM.
Additionally, the House bill would increase training and employment opportunities in the industry for Massachusetts residents, with preference going to veterans and to residents living in neighborhoods adjacent to the port infrastructure sites. All jobs would also be covered by Project Labor Agreements, ensuring high-quality union jobs. The bill also addresses environmental justice concerns, which Gozemba focused on in her testimony.
Salem is very familiar with the promise of offshore wind. In the 18th century, our community was at the heart of the age of the clipper ship and foreign trade that brought great riches to some in Salem and beyond. Evidence of the great wealth that came to some people in Salem from those offshore wind enterprises is in the stately architecture of the Chestnut Street Neighborhood or Hamilton Hall or the holdings of the Peabody Essex Museum. That wealth persists, and we invite you to visit and appreciate it. But we also want you to think about the workers who made that wealth possible.
What persists are the challenges for the working men and women of Salem who in the 18th century and today lived or live in more modest and sometimes even severely challenged housing situations. There is a tale of two cities in Salem: the tale of those who extracted great wealth from the use of offshore wind and the tale of those who survived working in dangerous conditions for subsistence wages that did not support a family and who then had to live in less than adequate and healthy housing conditions.
Of course, the neighborhood where most new immigrants live and get their first foothold in Salem, The Point Neighborhood, is far different from the Chestnut Street Neighborhood. Like many immigrant neighborhoods it is densely packed and suffers from food and housing insecurity but, of course, contributes enormous power in terms of workforce, culture, and the overall vibrancy of our city.
SAFE, working in alliance with our partners in the Point Neighborhood Association and the Latino Leadership Coalition, is committed to assuring that the Offshore Wind Revolution is more than an extractive exercise in wealth attainment for the more privileged and is poised to bring good-paying family-supporting jobs. The gap of opportunity for all can be bridged to some degree by a carefully thought out and equitable workforce development process that provides opportunity to all. We have people in Salem and in our surrounding communities who want jobs in Offshore Wind—who want equitable opportunity.
Both of these bills set ambitious targets for developing and deploying OSW to meet the state’s clean energy goals. SAFE is committed to meeting these goals while ensuring a just transition that secures quality jobs, clean air, and increased economic opportunities for those in our community who have borne the burdens of pollution created by our fossil fuel energy infrastructure.