In an effort to create jobs in Rhode Island and strengthen America's energy independence, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives are introducing legislation to provide financial incentives for the investment and production of offshore wind energy. The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act would create an investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind facilities placed into service, which is an estimated 600 wind turbines. These tax credits are important because of the longer lead time for the permitting and construction of offshore wind turbines, as compared to onshore wind energy. Once awarded a tax credit, companies would have five years to install the offshore wind facility. Companies would not be able to receive other production or investment tax credits in addition to the offshore wind investment tax credit.
"Rhode Island has great potential to harness offshore wind to power our economy and diversify our energy supply. Establishing commercial wind energy development in Rhode Island could potentially bring critical jobs and investment to the state. This legislation will incentivize investment in renewable energy and help get proposed Rhode Island offshore wind projects through the development process and up and running," said Reed, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees funding for the U.S. Department of the Interior.
In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which gave the U.S. Department of the Interior jurisdiction to develop renewable energy on the Outer Continental Shelf, specifically offshore wind. Since then, several mid-Atlantic states and developers have been competing to develop offshore wind farms.
As part of the competitive leasing process, Senator Reed brought Secretary Salazar to Rhode Island in 2011 to see firsthand the work the state is doing as it seeks commercial leases for wind projects. Secretary Salazar recently announced that sales of leases to offshore wind developers in waters off Rhode Island and Massachusetts will take place this year.
Rhode Island has drawn accolades for developing the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), a detailed coastal resource management plan, which took a comprehensive look at Rhode Island's ocean resources and took into consideration the complexities of fisheries, our state's cultural heritage, our recreation needs, and the potential for renewable energy development.
"It is important that we develop our coastal resources in a thoughtful and inclusive manner as we strive to make Rhode Island a national leader in offshore wind development, and help bring assembly and manufacturing jobs to the state," said Reed.
During a tour of Quonset today with federal economic development officials, Reed noted that Rhode Island's Congressional delegation has secured over $28 million in federal funding for improvements to Quonset Point to bolster the state's ability to become a hub for clean energy development. The upgrades include road, pier, bulkhead, and freight improvements that will increase port capacity and position Quonset to support the staging and assembly of offshore wind development.
According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. offshore wind industry that takes advantage of this abundant domestic resource could support up to 200,000 manufacturing, construction, operation and supply chain jobs across the country and drive more than $70 billion in annual investments by 2030.
Last December, Senator Reed helped pass legislation renewing critical tax credits for wind energy as a part of a package to avert the fiscal cliff.
Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are lead authors of the Senate bill. Similar legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ).