After an intense midterm election that featured continued Republican control of the Senate, at least 27 flipped seats in the House, seven flipped Governorships, and Democratic gains in state legislatures, the offshore wind industry could be positioned for new federal and state policies that increase support for offshore wind projects on both coasts.
National House Committees
Because Republicans retained the Senate, there should not be any immediate changes in the chairs of those key committees. But now that Democrats are running the House, there will be some significant committee leadership changes.
- Energy and Commerce Committee: New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone will chair this panel with broad EPA, DOE, FERC and other energy-related jurisdiction. Current Chairman Greg Walden is expected to be the ranking member on the Republican side.
- Natural Resources Committee: Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva will run this panel with oversight of Department of Interior/Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, while Utah Republican Rob Bishop becomes ranking member.
- Science Committee: Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson takes over here, and has pledged to make recognizing and mitigating climate change a priority for her committee. Her Republican counterpart isn’t yet set.
These changes mean that some current administration energy policies like special subsidies for coal and nuclear power plants could be challenged by these committees and examined in a series of public hearings. They could also allow the bipartisan discussion of national infrastructure programs to include new federal investments in offshore wind energy and its connections to the grid.
State Governors’ Races in Key States
- Maine—Democrat Janet Mills won and replaces climate denier Paul LePage, which should allow Maine to finally move forward with its offshore wind programs, including a demonstration floating offshore wind turbine.
- Massachusetts—Popular Republican Charlie Baker won a second term and is expected to continue his strong support of offshore wind energy, including the state’s RPS of 3200MW of offshore wind energy, which features the 800MW Vineyard Wind Farm.
- Connecticut–Democrat Ned Lamont won a close race, and should maintain the state’s offshore wind programs, including a 200MW future wind farm.
- Rhode Island –Democrat Gina Raimondo won and campaigned hard on her support of Rhode Island’s two offshore wind projects, Block Island and the future Revolution Wind Farm.
- New York—Democrat Andrew Cuomo easily won a third term and Democrats now have control of the legislature, which gives Cuomo more freedom to pass clean energy legislation in support of NYSERDA’s offshore wind projects to meet its RPS of 2400MW by 2030.
- Maryland—Republican Larry Hogan was easily re-elected and will continue to work with the legislature and the Maryland Energy Administration to advance the state’s US Wind 250MW project.
- Ohio—Republican Mike DeWine replaces outgoing Republican John Kasich. It’s not yet clear what effect this could have on the LEEDCO Lake Erie offshore wind farm.
- California—Democrat Gavin Newsome easily won and replaces Jerry Brown, and indicated he will move forward with that state’s aggressive clean energy program, including three new offshore wind leases.
- Oregon—Democrat Kate Brown won re-election and her party expanded its hold on the state legislature, which should allow her to proceed with exploring some offshore wind options.
- Hawaii-Democrat David Ige won re-election and will maintain his state’s commitment to 100% renewable energy by 2045. Hawaii has no current carve-out for offshore wind energy but might be suitable for floating wind turbines.
State Ballot Initiatives
There were a number of state-level energy and climate issues on state ballots, but most of them did not directly affect offshore wind energy.
- Florida voted to ban offshore oil drilling, which could open the door to offshore wind energy.
- For the second time in two years, Washington State voted down a carbon tax that could have provided funding for offshore wind energy among other clean energy technologies.