Wind Council Releases Report on Plan for NJ WIND Institute

Gov. Phil Murphy’s Wind Council today released a report detailing plans for creating the Wind Innovation and New Development (WIND) Institute. The WIND Institute will serve as a center for education, research, innovation, and workforce training related to the development of offshore wind in New Jersey and the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

In August 2019, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 79, establishing a Council for the Wind Innovation and New Development Institute, charged with developing and implementing a plan to create a regional hub for New Jersey’s burgeoning offshore wind industry and build upon the Murphy Administration’s commitment to making New Jersey a national leader in offshore wind. The Council includes representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the Board of Public Utilities, the Department of Education, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“Offshore wind is coming to the United States and bringing billions of investment dollars and thousands of jobs along with it,” said Governor Murphy. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to not only grow New Jersey’s economy, but also move rapidly toward a clean energy future that puts us on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The report released today outlines our plans for establishing a WIND Institute that will facilitate workforce development, research, and innovation in New Jersey’s offshore wind industry, ensuring that we take full advantage of this opportunity to grow our economy and create new opportunities for New Jersey workers while protecting our environment.”

To inform its recommendations, the Wind Council assessed the state of the offshore wind industry in New Jersey, conducted a gap analysis of workforce assets in the state, and facilitated discussions with a range of stakeholder groups, including offshore wind industry members, organized labor, four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, vocational technical schools and comprehensive high schools, and fisheries.

The data and insights the Wind Council gathered revealed that having a single entity focused on coordinating state- and industry-wide collaboration will be essential to addressing offshore wind companies’ pressing workforce development needs and fostering local research, innovation, and thought leadership.

In the report released today, the Wind Council recommends that the WIND Institute adopt this role in New Jersey and take the lead in organizing and developing solutions to further the State’s leadership in offshore wind. Specific recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • The WIND Institute be established as an independent authority with a corollary non-profit;
  • The WIND Institute coordinate and galvanize cross-organizational efforts by acting as a centralized hub for offshore wind workforce development;
  • The WIND Institute champion research, innovation, and thought leadership that unlocks market potential;
  • The WIND Institute leverage a combination of state funding, federal funding, and – where appropriate and feasible – philanthropic funding to ensure sustained and adequate support; and
  • The WIND Institute have a physical presence to support in-person collaboration and act as a hub of activity for the region’s industry.

“It’s incredibly rare that a state gets to establish a brand new industry. Offshore wind presents this opportunity for New Jersey and taking proactive action to establish a robust industry and supply chain will kickstart significant business growth and job creation,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The Wind Council report lays out a clear roadmap for establishing New Jersey as the epicenter of the region’s offshore wind industry. This would be a welcome economic boost at any time, but it will be even more valuable as we recover from COVID-19.”

“Today on Earth Day is the perfect time to announce this progress on offshore wind,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “Achieving Governor Murphy’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050 will create environmental benefits for generations of New Jerseyans to come.  Responsible offshore wind development presents an unprecedented opportunity to stimulate major economic growth and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Today’s Wind Council report lays out a clear set of priorities and strategies that will facilitate collaboration and mutual support, including partnering with our conservationist and fishing communities, as we work together to achieve a clean energy future for New Jersey.”

“Given the twin threats of climate change and COVID-19, offshore wind is one of the key clean energy resources that can help us rebuild our economy, as it will bring thousands of jobs, billions in economic returns, and enough renewable power to serve millions of homes. Offshore wind will deliver the efficient, sustainable energy New Jersey needs to achieve our 100 percent clean energy future,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “What’s more, between having the ‘Greenest Governor’ to awarding the single-largest wind project in the country to date, New Jersey is prepared to lead the coordination of public, industry, and community stakeholders through the WIND Institute.”

“Offshore wind is a major job creator and establishing New Jersey as an industry leader will bring thousands of good, permanent, family sustaining jobs to our state. This will be a major boon to New Jersey workers, but we must ensure they have the skills and training required for these positions,” said DOL Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “The Wind Council report includes plans to establish a talent pipeline that provides opportunities for New Jersey workers to work in, and grow with, this new industry.”

“Establishing a robust offshore wind industry in New Jersey is an exciting opportunity, but in order to take full advantage we must make sure students are prepared with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in this new industry,” said Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis. “The report issued today outlines a comprehensive strategy to ensure students get the relevant industry experience and credential they need to excel in the offshore wind industry. The WIND Institute will partner with colleges and universities to catalyze these opportunities for New Jersey students.”

“Bringing the offshore wind industry to New Jersey will create opportunities for high-demand jobs for generations of students as they enter the workforce. It is crucial that we provide students with the skills needed for careers in growing industries like this,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “The Wind Council report is a significant step to inform education programming that can help meet the state’s needs and get students excited about and prepared to work in offshore wind.”

The full Wind Council report is available here.

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