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Study: Offshore wind could add $3.6B to East Coast economies

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Study: Offshore wind could add $3.6B to East Coast economies

A new economic analysis finds that a domestic offshore wind industry would triple the number of wind energy jobs in five U.S. states and add $3.6 billion to the U.S. economy.

The report, Offshore Wind: Generating Economic Benefits on the East Coast, found that if New York, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina each built a 352-MW offshore wind farm, nearly 25,000 construction and operational jobs would be created. South Carolina would reap the biggest benefits, adding more than 5,600 jobs and generating $878 million in direct and indirect economic benefits.

"Through its expected growth over the next several years, offshore wind energy has the potential to significantly add to the gross regional product and state and federal tax revenues of South and North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and New York," wrote Environmental Entrepreneurs, a nonpartisan business group and an affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in the report's overview.

After construction, the financial gains from the offshore wind farms would fall as they go into commercial operation. Each state would add between 148 and 204 jobs and between $26 million and $31 million in economic benefits during the wind facility's operation and maintenance phase, the study found.

The report also examined the economic impact an oil spill off the coasts of the states would have. A one-month beach and fishing closure due to an oil spill would cost the states more than $2.7 billion in combined GDP and $1.3 billion in lost wages. New York would be the most severely affected by the disaster, losing $1.8 billion in GDP and $870 million in wages.

State policy is expected to play a key role in building up an offshore wind sector in the U.S. So far this year, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut announced a combined 1,400 MW in power contracts for electricity from the Vineyard Offshore Wind Project and the Revolution Wind Offshore project, thanks to ambitious renewable portfolio standards and clean energy-friendly public initiatives.

BW Research conducted the economic analysis on behalf of Environmental Entrepreneurs.