Senator Collins Joins Bipartisan Group in Introducing Legislation to Expand Offshore Wind Career Training

Grants would be available to community colleges, institutes of higher education, labor organizations, and nonprofits

Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in introducing legislation to create a grant program for offshore wind career training and education.

 

“Within 50 miles of the U.S. coast, there is enough offshore wind capacity to power our country four times over. Thanks to UMaine’s leadership in offshore wind energy research through Aqua Ventus, a project I have strongly supported, Maine is particularly well-suited to benefit from the growth of this industry, which has the potential to support more than 2,000 good-paying jobs in our state,” said Senator Collins. “In order to harness this substantial supply of clean energy, a coordinated approach between businesses, universities, community colleges, and government is necessary.  Our bipartisan legislation will help bolster job training programs to assist Americans seeking careers in the offshore wind industry.”

 

The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Energy to work with stakeholders to identify gaps in the offshore wind industry’s workforce development before setting up a grant program to address those needs. The grants could be used for a variety of activities, including current worker training, training in conjunction with an apprenticeship, individual tuition assistance for a postsecondary credential, or other activities to address the workforce needs of the offshore wind industry. Grant applicants that are serving veterans, dislocated workers, or people with various barriers to employment would be prioritized under this legislation. The grant program would be authorized at $25 million a year from fiscal year 2020 through 2024. The Department of Energy found that the United States could install a total of 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind projects by 2030 and 86,000 MW by 2050, creating tens of thousands of jobs in coastal communities along the Atlantic Coast.

 

“America’s energy workers are second to none, and over the next decade we’ll need to fill tens of thousands of new jobs to manufacture, build and operate the first large-scale U.S. offshore wind projects,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act would make a smart investment in the American workforce, essential to realize offshore wind’s nearly $70 billion revenue opportunity for American supply chain businesses and arming U.S. workers with the skills needed to succeed in rewarding offshore wind careers.”

 

“The offshore wind industry holds great potential for job creation and economic growth and will drive down the emissions that cause climate change,” said Mike Williams, Interim Co-Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance. “We need to prepare our workers to be ready to seize the opportunities coming out of this growing field—while also ensuring the jobs created by the industry are good-paying, safe jobs. The Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act will do just that.”

 

Representative William Keating (MA-09) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.