Science Gazette

An offshore wind ecosystem fund of $5 million has been announced

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Fund to support workforce development and diversity in New York’s offshore wind industry launched by Equinor, bp, NYC Economic Development Corporation, and other key community members. The Offshore Wind Ecosystem Fund, a $5 million clean energy community grant program, was announced by Equinor and bp in collaboration with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Sunset Park Task Force (SPTF) to support sustainable growth, workforce development, community empowerment, and climate justice in New York City’s emerging offshore wind ecosystem. New York City minority and women-owned businesses will receive grants from the fund to support innovation in the offshore wind industry, and job education and training will be bolstered for all New Yorkers. There is a Strategy Development Committee in charge of developing investment strategies that are in line with the Fund’s goals, and a Selection Committee tasked with assisting with the evaluation and selection of funding proposals. Both NYCEDC and Equinor have representatives from the Sunset Park Task Force, an organization that works to improve residents’ access to waterfront employment and recreational opportunities.

Leading the Ecosystem Fund initiative on behalf of its 50/50 strategic partnership with bp in the US is Equinor, one of the world’s largest wind developers. Companies are working together to create the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects, which will generate enough clean energy to supply over 2 million homes in New York State. Over two gigawatts of offshore wind energy will be produced by Empire Wind, located off the southern coast of Long Island, with an additional 1.2 gigawatts produced by Beacon Wind. We are excited to announce the creation of the Ecosystem Fund, which will provide critical funding to support the growth of New York’s clean energy economy in the years to come. The President of Equinor Wind US, Molly Morris, believes that this initiative will help stimulate a new pipeline of creative ideas and talented people from across the city, especially from underserved communities, to build careers in this exciting new field. ? It fits in with our efforts to transform the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Brooklyn into a major staging and assembly port for offshore wind turbines, and with the goals of the Sunset Park neighborhood.

“bp recognizes the importance of a just energy transition that delivers quality jobs, supports the livelihoods of local communities, and prepares workers for new opportunities in the energy sector,” said Dave Lawler, Chairman and President of bp America. That’s why we’re putting money toward fostering equity in the offshore wind industry, preparing people to work in the emerging energy sector, and strengthening the workforce as a whole. New York City Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Andrew Kimball said, “We are thrilled to partner with Equinor in the creation of the Offshore Wind Ecosystem Fund, which will be a critical program helping to advance New York City’s Offshore Wind vision.” A great public-private partnership has led to the creation of this fund, which will ensure that New Yorkers of all socioeconomic backgrounds can participate in the environmental economy. According to NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris: “NYSERDA’s partnership with Equinor includes three of New York’s five offshore wind projects currently in development—part of the largest active portfolio in the U.S., that will anchor this game-changing renewable resource here in the Empire State and bring benefits to all New Yorkers, especially those who have been left behind in the past. To help communities like Sunset Park provide historical knowledge and local expertise for workforce training and development initiatives, the Ecosystem Fund will direct community investments to best serve neighborhoods and the broader development of offshore wind projects.

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Antonio Reynoso, mayor of Brooklyn, praised the Offshore Wind Ecosystem Fund for bringing a “comprehensive approach” to environmental justice in the borough. As the author puts it, “not only will these grants accelerate our clean energy efforts, but they will also open up green careers to new generations and empower small businesses owned by minorities, women, and service-disabled veterans to participate in the offshore wind industry. As always, much appreciation to Equinor, NYCEDC, and SPTF for their dedication to New York City’s clean and green future. We must train locals to construct and run South Brooklyn Marine Terminal as a regional hub for offshore wind production and logistics. For our energy transition to be just, we must prioritize those who are traditionally left out of the conversation and actively seek to include them. With this goal in mind, I was pleased to be successful in securing funding from the Department of Labor to support a regional workforce development program focused on climate adaptation manufacturing. I am pleased that this effort, along with the efforts of NYCEDC, the Sunset Park Task Force, and Equinor, will guarantee additional resources for a more just transition as we prepare the local workforce for real manufacturing jobs right here in Brooklyn as we retool our economy for green energy. As Representative Nydia M. Velázquez put it, “the future can be bright with all levels of government, industry, and the community working together” (D-NY).

With today’s announcement of $5 million to support sustainable and equitable growth in our local communities, the green energy sector in New York City continues to strengthen. Green jobs are the key to a sustainable and equitable economic recovery, as well as achieving our city’s climate goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2040. I am pleased to see that the NYCEDC, Equinor, and the Sunset Park Task Force are all focusing on the needs of our workforce as a whole, which is one of my primary responsibilities as chair of the NYC Council’s Committee on Economic Development. This grant will ensure that the Offshore Wind Sector prioritizes Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), Small Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (SDVOBs), and communities with a history of environmental injustice in order to ensure a fair and equitable recovery. Councilmember Amanda Farias, Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, expressed gratitude to President Andrew Kimball, Equinor, and the Sunset Park Task Force for their efforts in securing this grant. “Climate change is a major risk for our metropolis. Council Member James F. Gennaro, who also serves as Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, has said that public-private partnerships like these are crucial to making New York City greener. I think it’s great that Equinor Wind, NYCEDC, and the Sunset Park Task Force are making this investment in renewable power.

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According to Kizzy Charles-Guzmán, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice, “this grant program is a win for climate justice: growing our city’s green economy and supporting good jobs while empowering this community.” We are thrilled that this fund will give priority to at-risk neighborhoods like Sunset Park in order to increase the adoption of offshore wind, which is essential to achieving the city’s and state’s clean energy goals and reducing the city’s reliance on fossil fuels. New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner and Chief Climate Officer Rohit T. Aggarwala remarked, “Programs like these show New York City’s great progress toward becoming a world-renowned offshore wind hub.” As stated by the city’s sustainability coordinator, “The Offshore Wind Ecosystem Fund brings us closer to achieving the city’s long-term sustainability goals while creating economic opportunities that revitalize environmental justice communities.” More details about the Ecosystem Fund, application guidance, and opportunities to partner with other applicants are forthcoming.

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