Rep. Auchincloss Accompanies President Biden on MA Trip to Somerset Today, Possible Pitch for Offshore Wind Development


Image of offshore windmill by Eric Westendarp from Pixabay.

President Biden travels to Somerset, Massachusetts on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, accompanied by Congressman Jake Auchincloss (D-MA District 4). The president will discuss the climate crisis and how it presents an opportunity to create jobs and lower costs for families. Representative Auchincloss has been a strong supporter of offshore wind development in Massachusetts. 

Brayton Point Power Station, said to the be last coal-fired power station in Massachusetts, is in the Town of Somerset where President Biden will make his remarks, accompanied by Representative Auchincloss. It ceased operations in 2017. It is possible that President Biden will use Somerset as a backdrop for announcing initiatives in green energy jobs.

In June 2020, Brayton Point LLC filed an application with the Town of Somerset’s Zoning Board of Appeals for approval to develop the property of the old coal-fired power plant into a “renewable energy hub catering to the offshore wind industry.” The application noted that the proposed development would bring economic stimulus to Somerset, good paying jobs, and would help fill the loss of tax revenue from the power plant closure. The developer urged approval of its application, stating that doing so would “pave the way for Brayton Point Commerce Center to become the leading logistics center for the offshore wind industry in the northeast.”

Rep. Auchincloss is a Marine veteran and a Major in the Marine reserves who voted against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last Thursday, due to language in the Senate's Coast Guard Reauthorization that he says would harm the offshore wind industry. The bill's language is said to jeopardize as many as 33 offshore wind projects along the East Coast and as many as 9,000 jobs, including jobs related to Massachusetts wind projects.

Congressman Auchincloss recently led a letter, signed by thirty members of Congress including Caucus Leadership and Committee Chairs, that urges the Chair and the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to remove the offending language from the Fiscal Year 2023 Coast Guard Authorization bill (H.R. 6865).

The signatories assert that language in the current bill "has the unintended consequence of threatening the future of our nation's offshore wind industry and our nation's energy independence. As Members of Congress representing states and districts with nascent offshore wind development, we are deeply concerned about how this provision will impact career opportunities for our constituents. Removing this language would allow for the House and Senate to reach a compromise that achieves our shared goals of supporting a U.S. offshore wind workforce, including domestic shipbuilding."

The language at issue (Section 518 of H.R. 6865) is worded to prohibit offshore wind developers in the U.S. from employing construction vessels, including wind turbine installation vessels (WTIVs) because they are "foreign flagged," or mostly owned by citizens of another county and staffed with a foreign workforce. However, Rep. Auchincloss and his letter-writing colleagues note that there are only three WTIVs in existence that are capable of constructing turbines for offshore wind installations. All three are foreign flagged.

"By prohibiting the use of these WTIVs in the short term, we sacrifice all of the jobs that would have existed during the lifetime of these projects, including for maintenance and operations," assert the members of Congress in their letter.

Thanks to the Office of Congressman Jake Auchincloss for sharing its news with Westwood Minute.

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Page 1 of Congressman Jake Auchincloss et al. letter to Senators. Click left/right arrow for more.
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