A New Hampshire joint commission is scheduled to meet on 23 March to discuss offshore wind and port development in the state.
On 30 July 2020, the State Governor Christopher Sununu signed a bill which, among other things, established an offshore wind commission and an offshore wind industry development office in the department of business and economic affairs.
The commission is investigating the economic development opportunities in offshore wind for New Hampshire in supply chain needs, port capabilities, workforce development, energy procurement, transmission and storage, and fisheries and marine environment. It is studying these opportunities in parallel with the work of the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force established by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
According to the bill, the commission can ensure that New Hampshire is poised to immediately engage in, support, and benefit from the development of the offshore wind industry, and ensure that such development and the energy produced therefrom benefits economically disadvantaged populations.
The commission also may consider, at an appropriate time and in relation to the New Hampshire state energy strategy, if contracts with developers and utilities can deliver lower costs to ratepayers, and may coordinate with advisory boards established by the Executive Order 2019-06 as to assist the commission in reaching its recommendations.
In 2019, Governor Sununu signed the Executive Order 2019-06, preparing the state for future offshore wind development and the BOEM Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force. The order established four advisory boards focused on informing New Hampshire’s next steps, while calling on state agencies to report on key studies.
The advisory boards are working with stakeholders, and advising New Hampshire members of the BOEM Task Force throughout the process. The four boards include Fisheries, endangered species, and environmental impacts advisory board; Workforce, economic development, and supply chain advisory board; Existing offshore industries advisory board; and Siting, transmission, and infrastructure advisory board.
Portsmouth Harbor in the Spotlight for Port Development
The commission established last year is in charge of considering and making specific recommendations on topics such as the existing and future opportunities to establish a supply chain supporting the development of offshore wind facilities.
One of the specific points the commission will address is an assessment of the capabilities of the Portsmouth Harbor. According to the bill enacted last year, the state is eyeing an opportunity for the port to become a regional hub for offshore wind.
The commission will also examine opportunities for contracts and/or solicitations with offshore wind developers, as well as potential locations to interconnect offshore wind farms to the onshore transmission grid.
With regard to workforce needed for the development, construction and operation of offshore wind farms and their related infrastructure, the commission will carry out an evaluation of the potential workforce and the needs of the offshore wind industry. This will include evaluating New Hampshire’s ability to provide workforce educational opportunities, training, development, and recruitment, housing, and transportation to meet those needs, and the benefits of utilising a New Hampshire workforce to the fullest extent possible.
The commission will also focus on appropriate accommodations and protections for fisheries and marine habitat, and coordination with partner states on marine surveys and studies, metocean data, and transmission studies.