With offshore wind projects on the horizon, Long Island manufacturers and unions are looking for a role in the emerging industry.
“We want everyone to benefit,” including business, environmental and organized workers, said Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who organized a wind power conference on Friday to bring local suppliers into the mix.
With climate change leading to droughts, fires and floods, the transition to carbon-free power generation is urgently needed, he said. “This is real life and death.”
One of the panelists, Siri Espedel Kindem, President of Equinor Wind US, a unit of Equinor ASA in Stavanger, Norway, said regional subcontractors had a wide range of options including construction, transportation and cable manufacturing.
“It’s not just about the wind turbines,” he said, “but also about the infrastructure that needs to be built.”
Panelist Ross Gould, vice president of supply chain development for the nonprofit Business Network for Offshore Wind, said the 8,000 components that go into an offshore wind turbine open up many opportunities for suppliers.
Tom Montalbine, President of Roman Stone Construction in Bay Shore, a manufacturer of concrete products for infrastructure, sees wind power as an attractive market.
“We want to get a piece of it,” he said at the conference at the LIU Post’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts.
New York has five offshore wind projects in active development, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency.
Empire Wind, an 819 megawatt turbine from Equinor and partner BP about 22 kilometers from Jones Beach, is scheduled to go into commercial operation in 2024.
Empire Wind 2, a 1,260 megawatt turbine nearby, is also being developed by Equinor and is expected to be commercially operated in 2026.
NYSERDA also selected Equinor for a third contract, Beacon Wind, a 1,230 megawatt project 60 miles off Montauk Point.
The state agency estimates Beacon Wind and Empire Wind 2 will create more than 5,200 “direct” jobs and total economic activity of $ 8.9 billion in nationwide labor, supply, development and manufacturing.
Offshore wind projects have been criticized by the commercial fishing industry, which has raised concerns about the safety and congestion of maritime traffic on the main fishing routes.
But panelist Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens’ Campaign for the Environment, said wind power is facing a political setback at a time when development should be accelerated.
“The naysayers are coming out,” despite evidence of climate change such as droughts, fires, floods and ocean acidification, she said. “We have to put our finger on the fast-forward button.”