Last month, Maine’s Governor’s Energy Office released its Offshore Wind Roadmap, which will serve as the state’s guiding document for offshore wind strategy over the coming decade. The publication results from 18 months of public process led by an advisory committee comprising State agencies and energy, economic, fisheries, wildlife, science, and environmental leaders. A federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant supported this work.
Karp Strategies, under the leadership of Xodus and in partnership with VHB and BW Research Partners, contributed to this work by conducting a supply chain and workforce analysis. The goal of this analysis was to determine the ecosystem of offshore wind-related businesses across the state, as well as the challenges and opportunities they face. From this analysis, Karp Strategies recommended policies that help existing Maine businesses overcome barriers to entry as they relate to the offshore wind supply chain. Specifically, we highlighted opportunities and best practices for recruiting new offshore wind-related companies to Maine and helped develop tools to build partnerships between developers and local suppliers that focus on supporting the growth of small and M/W/DBE businesses, workforce development pipelines, and local economic development.
As offshore wind continues to develop in the United States, similar roadmaps will become essential to responsible, effective, and sustainable economic development. Presently, individual developers are responsible for submitting plans for locally sourcing employees and materials for their projects. A state-authored guide on bolstering these supply chains would serve to benefit both developers by easing “look local first” challenges, as well as invite more businesses into an industry from which they might otherwise feel excluded.
Similar to Maine, many other states consider offshore wind a major opportunity to grow their economy and foster innovation. These opportunities create a need for new guidelines, either regulatory or not that provide mechanisms for legislators and developers alike to ensure benefits are made for and provided to community members in the vicinity of an offshore wind project. As these supply chains and related systems are built out, the radius of benefits should expand in a way that eventually benefits states that might not have direct access to offshore wind. This could take the form of centralized manufacturing in middle America or training offshore workers in states that don’t have as many lease areas so developers can contract them in other states.
As the offshore wind industry grows in the Northeast and throughout the country, the need for suppliers and workforce members will rise in tandem with the amount of new offshore wind projects. To be ready for these new demands and to enable states to take advantage of related economic benefits, there is a pressing need for more studies like Maine’s Offshore Wind Roadmap to equip stakeholders to seize offshore wind opportunities when they present themselves.