Jamie Nolan, 240-396-2022, [email protected]
Virginia’s largest unions call on leaders to move forward with offshore wind power to create clean energy and good jobs for Virginia
NEWPORT NEWS – Five of Virginia’s largest labor unions today announced their formal support of offshore wind energy development in Virginia and called on Governor McDonnell and Dominion Virginia Power to take swift action toward its development. Standing in solidarity with the Newport News shipyards in the background were representatives with the United Steelworkers (USW), International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Iron Workers, and the Building and Construction Trades Council.
"This is an opportunity to develop thousands of good paying union jobs in Virginia, which would enable our children and our children's children to raise a family and share in the American dream,” said Bill Harriday, international staff representative for United Steelworkers.
“Our workers stand uniquely-equipped and trained to tackle green energy projects like offshore wind power. We believe our workforce to be one-of-a-kind when it comes to constructing advanced-tech wind turbines,” said Josh Collins, Virginia political and policy director for the Laborers' International Union of North America (LiUNA). “We welcome this opportunity to join forces with our allies in VA 4 Wind Coalition to push for long-term sustainable energy solutions that will be a boon to thousands of unemployed workers.”
According to the Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (VCERC), a 3,000-megawatt Virginia coastal wind energy project built out over 20 years would create 10,000 jobs for Virginians. Specifically, it could create more than 6,000 construction jobs and 5,000 ongoing operation and maintenance jobs.
“Steel working, shipbuilding, construction, forging, manufacturing, you name it. For decades, most of those jobs critical to the wind industry have been union jobs”, said Eileen Levandoski, Virginia Conservation Program Manager with the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter. “Thus Virginia’s unionized labor force, regardless of its ‘right to work” policies, can and will be large and powerful advocates for offshore wind.”
Leaders from Virginia’s union, industry, and environmental communities agree that Dominion and Governor McDonnell should coordinate efforts to develop offshore wind energy. Because Dominion is the commonwealth’s largest power provider, owns much of its transmission capacity, and has a great deal of political clout, Virginia’s offshore wind industry could flourish with the company on board. Governor McDonnell should take a leadership role in this process by making Virginia “the Clean Energy Capital of the East Coast.”
“This is all about new manufacturing, fabrication, and construction jobs right here in Virginia. If the McDonnell Administration fails to act and Dominion does not move forward with offshore wind development, the commonwealth could lose thousands of jobs to other states in the region,” said Randy Flood, executive director of Green Jobs Alliance.
In addition to thousands of new jobs, offshore wind energy offers countless benefits for Virginians, cleaner air and water, stable electricity prices, increased energy security, and reduced global warming emissions.
Beth Kemler, Virginia state director for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said: “Especially in the wake of a global warming-fueled hurricane and massive flooding, it’s more important than ever than we take aggressive steps toward the development of clean energy sources like offshore wind.”
VA4Wind is a coalition of Virginia organizations working together to spur offshore wind energy development off of Virginia’s coast. Members include the Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Green Jobs Alliance and Virginia Interfaith Power & Light. Learn more at www.va4wind.com.