FILE - Offshore wind turbines

(The Center Square) – Offshore wind energy is the focus of a bill that is headed to the Massachusetts Senate’s Ways & Means Committee.

The House of Representatives by a 144-12 vote passed House Bill 4515 on March 3. The bill would boost offshore wind development while modernizing the state’s electrical grid and create thousands of new jobs in the sector.

“I’m immensely proud of the steps that the House took to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of renewable energy development,” House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano, D-Quincy, said in a release. “Not only will this legislation help us reduce our carbon emissions and combat climate change, it will also spur economic development, modernize our energy infrastructure, and create thousands of new jobs in the process.”

According to the release, the legislation comes at a time when the state has a net-zero emissions climate goal for 2050.

“I am thrilled that the House passed legislation crucial to the development of a strong offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy, D-Franklin, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, said in the release. “Massachusetts waters have the greatest offshore wind potential out of the contiguous U.S., and this legislation will ensure that the Commonwealth is prepared to harness that energy while also creating a just and robust local economy, educational opportunities for our residents, and critical upgrades to our energy infrastructure without causing undue harm to our coastal habitats or maritime industries.”

Currently, there are offshore wind projects in the works off the shores of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.

The bill, An Act Advancing Offshore Wind and Clean Energy, would make the state’s offshore wind bidding process more competitive by eliminating the current price cap requiring bids to be less expensive than in the past. It would also include economic development, employment, and environmental and fisheries mitigation benefits in any future procurements.

Under the bill, there would be the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in the next 10 years for infrastructure, innovation, job training, supply chain capacity, and transmission improvements as the legislation is comprised of tax incentives, grants, loans, and other financial investments.

The bill would also call for utility companies to upgrade transmission and distribution efforts to improve reliability and invest in long-term energy storage amid the switch to renewable energy.

In addition, the legislation would create thousands of “good-paying jobs” and create a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education programs in high school for offshore wind credential training.

According to the release, the legislation would create parity between natural gas and electric, and would place a charge on natural gas consumers that would go to support renewable energy. Customers could potentially be charged $1 per month; $23 million per year could potentially be collected over the next decade to support the transition to clean energy.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.