Sununu Will Ask for Federal Offshore Wind Study, A First Step To Development

Dec 20, 2018

An offshore wind turbine.
Credit BOEM.gov

Governor Chris Sununu says he plans to request a federal study of potential offshore wind development in New Hampshire.

Speaking on NHPR’s The Exchange Thursday, Sununu said offshore wind may have a role to play in how the state responds to human-driven climate change:

“Sure, if you want to set up a task force to look at wind, I don’t have any problem with that at all,” Sununu said.

He added that any renewable energy exploration in New Hampshire – including wind and solar – should account for “the social, economic and environmental impacts.”

The first step toward opening waters off the Seacoast to energy leasing would be asking the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for an offshore wind task force.

“This task force will talk with stakeholders, assess the coast and determine the viability of an offshore wind farm,” says the activist group 350 New Hampshire on its website. “If it seems viable, BOEM will start a leasing process for offshore wind developers.”

Nearly all other governors on the East Coast have already requested such a task force – and many towns and residents have asked Sununu and his Democratic predecessor, now-U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, to do the same.

A spokesman for Sununu confirmed the governor's comments meant he would make the task force request. The spokesman did not give a timeline for doing so.

State legislators in the incoming Democratic majority have signaled they’ll also push for offshore wind exploration and other renewable energy initiatives next session.

The issue is gaining steam in New Hampshire shortly after Massachusetts shattered federal records with a $400 million auction of wind development area, covering 390,000 acres of ocean below Cape Cod.

Meanwhile, a recently published UNH study found broad, bipartisan support for offshore wind among a sample of outdoor recreationists.

“These findings are unique because most previous studies show that recreationists tend to oppose energy development on or near public lands and protected areas,” said UNH professor Michael Ferguson in a press release. “But… they saw it as a benefit to the entire community and region, creating tourism opportunities, and enhancing their own recreation experiences.”

An August report suggested an average East Coast wind farm could generate thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in economic benefit for its home state.