Maine’s working families have been closely paying attention to announcement after announcement along the East Coast about projects that are delivering on the economic potential of offshore wind energy development.

In Massachusetts, the country’s first large-scale offshore wind project is creating roughly 500 new union construction jobs. A $350 million, 600,000-square-foot complex along the Hudson River near Albany, New York, will manufacture offshore wind towers. Plans for a New York City wind staging and assembly port on Staten Island, a $200 million investment in a pier in Connecticut that will be a staging area for offshore wind construction and a proposed manufacturing facility for wind tower components in Maryland that would create 500 new steelworker jobs are just a few of the headlines from this summer alone.

In Maine, that opportunity has presented itself, and we’re ready to get to work. Building an offshore wind farm requires 74 different occupations. The University of Maine-designed semi-submersible platform that will literally serve as the foundation for a single-turbine demonstration project here in Maine will require carpenters to build the forms, iron workers to install reinforcing bars, engineers to operate equipment and electricians to safely install power cables. These are good-paying jobs that support families. Too often, Maine building trades workers must travel outside the state for work, but the growth of a new industry here will help provide an anchor for a worker-friendly, clean-energy industry right here at home.

The state’s recently concluded legislative session saw broad agreement between Democrats and Republicans on how to expand the state’s research-focused process on offshore wind development in coordination with other ocean users. New legislation directs the Public Utilities Commission to negotiate a long-term power contract to support the state’s floating offshore wind Research Array in federal waters in the Gulf of Maine, which builds on more than 10 years of work to advance Maine’s offshore wind research and development. Maine has the tools and processes in place to commercialize the University of Maine’s patented floating technology while simultaneously protecting lobstering and fishing in federal waters in the Gulf of Maine.

Pioneering floating technology developed at our flagship university and built with Maine workers and companies is an exciting opportunity. In April, Maine’s Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 5,000 Maine workers across 17 unions, signed a memorandum of understanding that creates a framework for future negotiations on a project labor agreement and includes initiatives to bring new workers into the skilled trades to work on offshore wind. It will also give our veterans, youth and minorities opportunities to learn the trades and build the workforce for the future in one of the fastest-growing fields in the country.

Building America’s offshore wind projects will bring enormous economic benefits to communities across America, so let’s get it going here. Offshore wind will create a new American supply chain, tens of thousands of jobs, revitalize port communities and stimulate investment into local economies across the country. We are looking forward to those clean energy opportunities in a new, Maine-made industry.

Grant Provost is the business agent for Iron Workers Local 7.

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