THE OFFSHORE WIND industry is coming to the Gulf of Maine. It promises 20,000 new jobs, billions of dollars in investments and economic impact, including repurposed and newly-developed state infrastructure at the Port of Portsmouth, Pease Tradeport, and other sites.

It means clean, renewable power generation — for use right here in New Hampshire. This diversification of our energy resources will move New Hampshire decisively away from carbon and garner enormous savings for ratepayers. It also will address the climate crises and improve public health.

While 2020 has been one of the most difficult years in modern history, here in the Granite State and throughout New England, there is a bright spot on the horizon: a game-changing investment in offshore wind.

In 2019, New Hampshire finally began exploring opportunities for a new, large-scale offshore wind industry right off our coast. Having requested the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to create for New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Task Force — established to determine leasable areas in federal waters — our region can join other states along the Atlantic Seaboard in offshore wind development. Now that we better understand from the examples in southern New England and Europe the financial and climate benefits and the practicality of this renewable energy resource, our focus has turned to position New Hampshire to be a new hub for this industry.

To underscore the economic potential of offshore wind, a recent study by the research firm Wood Mackenzie highlighted the many opportunities for our state. The development of five gigawatts of offshore projects in the Gulf of Maine over the next 10-15 years, with the potential for another four plus gigawatts, will generate jobs and investments in port development, construction, operations and maintenance, turbine manufacture, transportation, the larger supply chain, and general services.

Moreover, the industry will create more than $1.5 billion in wages and state tax benefits that would put offshore wind squarely in the top tier of industries in our state. Sectors of our economy slated to benefit from this brand-new industry are also vast: the creation of new electrical, welding, and other union jobs; the need for vessel operators moving turbine components, personnel and other materials out to project sites — the list goes on.

Engineers, marine biologists, construction, and many other job sectors will soon be in high demand to meet project timelines. And that’s before we get to the myriad economic benefits to local shops, restaurants, hotels, and other professional service industries.

The question should be asked: Are we taking this industry seriously enough? Activity is already heating up, thanks to recent efforts by the state Legislature and Governor Chris Sununu.

Within the coming weeks, we’ll witness the first convening of a new legislative study: The Commission to Study Offshore Wind and Port Development. The commission has been tasked with investigating a host of issues relating to this fledgling industry — economic development opportunities potentially chief among them. The commission is the result of Senator Watters’ SB 668, part of the recent omnibus HB 1245 signed by the governor last month.

Governor Sununu is strongly supportive of offshore wind, as evidenced by his establishment of working groups by executive order. The legislative commission will coordinate with those efforts and ensure full stakeholder engagement, including, for example, organized labor and fisheries.

In addition to the legislative commission, the bill also included the creation of a new office under the Department of Business and Economic Affairs — the Office of Offshore Wind Development — to further provide state support for the industry. While the office has yet to be funded, the hope is it can foster a robust offshore wind industry here.

It’s worth considering the next steps our state must take. Several areas require expedited and unified legislative, executive agency, educational institution, private sector and union response. They include: workforce development, especially in technical training; port, manufacturing, and energy transmission infrastructure; and ramping up of partnerships with existing and new businesses.

If we want to fully capitalize on these developments, these efforts must commence now. It’s imperative that we determine an approach that delivers anticipated lower electric rates.

To achieve the enormous economic potential we must also look to our neighbors and collaborate in the pursuit. Transmission considerations, supply chain and workforce development, research needs, the leasing of federal sites, and port resources all require interstate cooperation. The scale of the proposed market alone requires the inclusive involvement from all New England states and the energy suppliers in the ISO-New England framework.

The opportunity of this new industry cannot be overstated. But to truly realize its full potential, we must act now and find ways to work together.

Michael Behrmann, director of business development for Clean Energy NH, lives in Dover. Sen. David Watters (D - Dover) represents district 4 including Dover, Barrington, Rochester, and Somersworth..

Thursday, September 17, 2020

IN RESPONSE to the well-written article by Jim Adams, former district manager of the Postal Service, although his opinion piece was accurate, it also omitted some significant changes in recent postal operations that go beyond a mere continuation of former policies. Most of the changes instit…

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

WHILE THE primaries are a fading image in the rear-view mirror and the chosen candidates are fully immersed in their general election stumping, there are still some interesting lessons to be learned from the results of those primary contests.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Monday, September 14, 2020

I’VE BEEN an activist since I was eight years old. As a kid of Polish descent growing up in Minnesota, other kids would tease me for my funny-sounding name (it’s pronounced My-ka). I could sit there and take it, or I could stand up for myself. I chose the latter and I’ve been doing so ever since.

IN CELEBRATION of the start of hunting season, Andy Schafermeyer devoted his September 6 “Adventures Afield” column to advertising different ways to hunt black bears. Bear hunting season in New Hampshire began Sept. 1.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

AFTER A TOUGH primary, we can only win when we stand united. In New Hampshire with a short general election — seven weeks at most — and an evenly divided electorate, in order for Republicans to win, all candidates and their supporters must come together as soon as possible to support the tic…

THE 2020 legislative session has been unlike anything we’ve faced before as a Legislature. Our work, and the way we fulfill our constitutionally appointed duties, has changed and adapted in response to the coronavirus. Throughout everything, I am proud of the work and dedication of the New H…

Thursday, September 10, 2020

ANTI-ASIAN racism, from the assaults in towns, to the fear of East Asians, to President Donald Trump’s name calling, continues to pervade the country. COVID-19 is being used as the fuel to justify these thoughts and actions. If xenophobia of East Asians continues to spread, the effects could…

WHILE I AM hesitant to borrow the title from Thomas Paine’s famous Revolutionary War pamphlet, I believe this is just what we need now — an injection of some much-needed common sense into the 2020 election debate before it’s too late and Donald Trump somehow gets re-elected.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

WHILE SOME readers of this piece may know me as a state representative, others know that I’m also still a college student. As myself and my classmates begin this school year, please keep in mind that it begins with a grave risk to our health and that of college staff and surrounding communities.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

EACH YEAR on Labor Day, we celebrate and honor the people who do the work in our communities and those in our history who have contributed to the struggle of labor. But this year there are no picnics, parades, or celebrations, as working families hold their breath hoping for the best. Job lo…

Thursday, September 03, 2020

UNTIL RECENTLY, the Executive Council has been a lesser-known institution in New Hampshire, but more and more Granite Staters are recognizing the important role it plays in protecting our fundamental rights and ensuring that the state’s money is wisely spent in a way that benefits all.