facebook linkedin twitter

Wind Energy Labor Pact Viewed as Sign of What Biden Economy Will Look Like

November 20, 2020 by Dan McCue

Ørsted, the Danish renewable energy group, and the North America’s Building Trades Unions have entered into a pact to train an offshore wind construction workforce as the firm eyes construction of a series of wind farm projects up and down the East Coast.

The deal comes at a time when President-elect Joe Biden is promising to move the United States back on the world stage as a combatant of climate change and to speed the nation’s transition to a renewable energy based future.

“I think this is a sign of what the economy may look like under the Biden administration,” said Josh Freed, senior vice president for climate at Third Way, a Washington, D.C. think tank.

“This announcement of a nationwide memorandum of understanding and that they are going to rely on unionized labor … really fits with the values that the Biden campaign has been talking about,” he said.

“It’s an indication that not only will we see a real acceleration of clean energy — offshore wind amongst many technologies — but that companies in this sector see there’s a real need and real advantage to being more collaborative with their workers,” he said.

Historically, labor unions in the U.S. have been resistant to calls for a rapid switch to renewable energy seeing it as potentially leading to a net loss of jobs for their trade members.

But according to Ørsted North America CEO David Hardy, part of the company’s intention in entering into the deal was to help organized labor make its own transition into the offshore wind field.

“We want to work with the NABTU to create a framework for an offshore wind construction workforce for all offshore wind farms we will operate,” he said.

NABTU President Sean McGarvey praised the agreement, saying it “expands career pathways of opportunities for our members to flourish in this transition.

“Our highly trained men and women professionals have the best craft skills in the world, and now will gain new experience in deep-water ocean work,” McGarvey said. “Our agreement is based on a successful model developed by the Rhode Island Building Trades for the Block Island Wind Farm project. We commend Ørsted for coming to the table to work in partnership with us and our membership.”

Ørsted has the largest footprint of any offshore wind developer operating in U.S. waters, having been awarded 2.9GW of power contracts up and down the Eastern seaboard from Rhode Island to Maryland.

It currently operates America’s only utility-scale offshore wind farm, off Rhode Island, and has built a two-turbine pilot project off the coast of Virginia in federal waters.

The deal with NABTU underscores the company’s desire to solidify offshore wind’s position as an incubator for union green-collar job creation and innovation.

“Ørsted believes the best workers are always the best-trained workers, and we are proud to have earned a strong record of working with skilled union labor to build the country’s first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, where more than 300 union workers were employed,” Hardy said.

“We appreciate NABTU’s cooperation and the collaborative approach our union partners have brought to this endeavor and look forward to learning from and working with them on this groundbreaking partnership,” he added.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are currently 15 active commercial leases waiting for development in the U.S. If they are actually built out as planned, they could generate 30GW of electricity, create 83,000 jobs and drive $25 billion in annual economic output in the next decade, the association has said.

Ørsted and NABTU said they will work to identify the skills necessary to accelerate the creation of an offshore workforce, and partner on training and certification to ready workers to build new projects. They did not provide details on numbers of workers that would be trained or the cost of the program.

President-elect Biden has set a goal to achieve net zero emissions in the electricity sector by 2035.

In The News

Health

Voting

Economy

Biden Admin Stepping Up Community Grants from COVID Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's administration is beginning to make $3 billion in economic development grants available to communities — a tenfold increase in the program paid for by this year's COVID-19 relief bill. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said her agency on Thursday will begin... Read More

July 21, 2021
by Brock Blasdell
Arizona Outpaces Nation In Post-COVID Private Sector Job Recovery

According to a recently released economic report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, the state of Arizona has outpaced... Read More

According to a recently released economic report by the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, the state of Arizona has outpaced the nation in private sector economic recovery post-COVID. In June alone, Arizona added 26,000 private sector jobs to its economy -- a rate 17% higher than... Read More

Biden's 3rd Trip to Reddish Ohio Pushes His Economic Agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden just can't quit Ohio — even if it rejected him in last year's election.... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden just can't quit Ohio — even if it rejected him in last year's election. The Democrat travels to Cincinnati on Wednesday to push his economic policies. It's the third visit of his presidency to Ohio, the only state he lost... Read More

July 15, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Congress Searches for Way to Make Supply Chains Resilient

WASHINGTON -- The Senate continued its search Thursday for ways to prevent the kind of devastation brought to U.S. supply... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The Senate continued its search Thursday for ways to prevent the kind of devastation brought to U.S. supply chains by COVID-19. Industry executives told a Senate panel the pandemic exposed U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers to keep the lights on for their businesses. As... Read More

July 14, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Small Business Advocates Plead for Help Recovering from the Pandemic

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress threw their support Tuesday behind President Joe Biden’s goal of helping small and rural businesses... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress threw their support Tuesday behind President Joe Biden’s goal of helping small and rural businesses but with different perspectives on how to achieve it. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, suggested that Congress provide a dedicated source of funding for the Small Business... Read More

July 12, 2021
by Brock Blasdell
Explainer: Where are America’s Workers?

As the American economic engines churn back to life, one major hurdle stands in the way of our market renaissance... Read More

As the American economic engines churn back to life, one major hurdle stands in the way of our market renaissance - labor. Businesses, especially low wage, low skill businesses, are having a difficult time finding people to work for them.  The consequences of these shortages are... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top