The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Could Be a Lifeline for Struggling New England Cities

In a matter of months, workers will begin erecting 837-ft.-tall wind turbines for Vineyard Wind, the country’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm. When fully operational, the plant will generate 800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 400,000 homes. More than a dozen other East Coast offshore wind projects are awaiting government approval, and the plans portend an entirely new clean-energy industry—with thousands of new, high-paying jobs to go along with it. Meanwhile, the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council is planning to increase class sizes in existing training programs to up the number of workers it can prepare for anticipated local offshore wind projects. Despite this flurry of training investment, some U.S. labor leaders worry that as the country decarbonizes, an expansion of offshore wind won’t provide as many jobs as its proponents hope, especially compared with the expected loss of labor-intensive fossil-fuel power-plant projects. David Langlais, business manager of Ironworkers Local 37 in Rhode Island, is particularly concerned about the fact that many offshore-wind–related jobs come from manufacturing turbine components—an industry based largely in Europe—rather than erecting and maintaining such equipment offshore.

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