Opportunity to "Leap Ahead"
The wind industry represents a major opportunity to provide clean, stable-priced energy using a domestic renewable resource, all while driving significant job growth and economic development. The offshore industry is currently being driven by individual state policies, with Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states all competing to become the “hub” of this new industry. The problem with this approach is that the industry is far larger than any one state and no single state has everything the industry needs. While state-by-state competition is healthy for driving down costs, a regional approach like that being taken in the Southeast is necessary to realize the full potential of the industry.
Benefits of a Regional Approach
Some examples of the benefits of a regional approach include:
- Allows for larger-scale deployment, improving economies of scale and reducing cost.
- Supply chain and construction efficiencies result from a long-term, stable, and predictable development “pipeline".
- Spreading costs over a much wider base reduces near-term ratepayer impact while allowing states to fairly balance allocation of economic benefits.
- Implementing regional concepts like aggregated or collaborative procurement could result in lower construction and energy costs.
- Expanding the scope of transmission integration analyses to cover a broader region can identify more cost effective solutions than those limited by state boundaries.
- Shared amortization of fixed costs like onshore or offshore transmission
Greater Economic Benefits
- Focusing on the supply chain strengths and market demand of a region (vs. a single state) is a more compelling and credible message when trying to attract industry jobs.
- Enabling long-term, stable, and predictable development plans makes it much easier to attract and retain new jobs in manufacturing and supply chain.
- Economic development resources can be allocated more efficiently by identifying and focusing on comparative strengths in the region.
- Ability to share costs and lessons learned on an early stage demonstration project, which lowers risk and reduces costs on larger future projects.
- Coordination of research, resource assessment, and environmental studies can reduce redundancy, lower cost, and improve quality.
- Results in reduced risk concentration and potentially lower finance costs.
The Southeastern Wind Coalition (SEWC) has been formed to organize this much-needed regional approach in the Southeast. Ultimately, we believe that the entire East Coast should be considered one region, but we are currently focused on the Southeast as a manageable first step towards that longer-term goal.