On Wednesday, August 26, Professor Sanjay Raja Arwade, of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department and the associate director of the UMass Wind Energy Center, was an invited speaker for the formal launch of New England for Offshore Wind, a regional coalition of environmental organizations, educational institutions, justice and health organizations, and business alliances. UMass Amherst is one of 21 participating “campaign partners” in this new coalition, which engages in collective advocacy for offshore wind in New England.
As Arwade explained about his specific role in the new coalition, “I represent UMass and the Wind Energy Center in the coalition and play the role of expressing the center’s support for offshore wind. I also hope to demonstrate how we in academia support the clean energy transition with our research and education.”
The press event took place virtually using Zoom and featured a speaking program on the benefits of offshore wind across sectors and New England states.
According to the new coalition’s press release, “New England’s coast has the perfect combination of features to realize incredible potential for offshore wind – high energy demand close to shore, shallow water, and strong winds. Offshore wind is the biggest lever we can pull to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and boost our economy by creating new jobs to get people back to work at the same time.”
In his presentation at the coalition’s launch on August 26, Arwade said that “We are proud to be able to support this coalition for offshore wind in New England and believe that our power comes from the breadth of the member groups and institutions, demonstrating the wide and overwhelming support for offshore wind in New England. As our friends in New York and the mid-Atlantic step up their efforts in offshore wind, the time is right for New England to assert itself even more forcefully.”
During his speech for the launch, Arwade explained that the UMass Amherst Wind Energy Center is the longest-running wind energy research and education center in the country and that its founder, Professor William Heronemus, published the first paper suggesting the potential of offshore wind. “Among other things,” said Arwade, “we are home to a new NSF-funded graduate traineeship program that will educate more than 40 graduate students to drive the coming clean energy transition.”
Arwade also noted that, through bold political leadership and activism, New England has positioned itself as a national leader in the race to develop offshore wind energy as the region’s most powerful tool for transitioning to a clean, renewable, and equitable energy future.
“At the same time,” said Arwade, “New England’s colleges and universities continue to lead the nation in research and education that is driving the industry forward and educating the workforce needed to make this a truly homegrown industry.”
According to the new coalition’s website, New England for Offshore Wind is a collaborative, broad-based coalition that includes partners, endorsers, and supporters from a diverse array of organizations and communities across New England.
“We are committed to combating climate change by increasing the supply of clean energy to our regional grid through more procurements of responsibly developed offshore wind,” as the coalition website said. “We believe that responsibly developed offshore wind is the single biggest lever we can pull to address the climate crisis while also strengthening our regional economy, protecting ratepayers, creating prevailing-wage jobs, and improving public health by reducing pollution.”
According to the website, “Our coalition advocates at the state and regional levels and aims to drive New England governors and legislatures to make commitments by 2022 to power one-third of our region with offshore wind.” (August 2020)