A Renewed Focus on the American Clean Energy Economy
Tuesday, September 28th
The exclusive virtual session took place with Premiere Global Partner Ørsted and featured two unique exchanges from thought leaders across the renewable energy sector.
Advancing innovative technologies that lower our carbon footprint while simultaneously growing the global economy in a just and sustainable way is no small task — it requires meaningful collaboration between all stakeholders.
Fortunately, this essential concept permeated the Dynamo Energy Hub event — A Renewed Focus on the Clean Energy Economy. This event brought together offshore wind sector leaders and influential policy experts who discussed the unique opportunity provided by offshore wind development to decarbonize the grid, revitalize coastal economies, and engage communities in a just transition.
The event began with opening remarks from Pamela Venzke, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Ørsted Offshore NA. Instead of being deterred by the fact that the time to cut carbon emissions is fading, Venzke uses it as a motivator to radically transition to a clean energy economy quickly and efficiently.
“Getting to a clean energy future is entirely possible, but it requires a renewed focus. We must transform the ways in which we generate the energy to lead our daily lives.”— Pamela Venzke, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Ørsted Offshore NA
Transitioning to a sustainable, renewable energy sector will not only have lasting favorable impacts on the environment, but it will also have transformative impacts on the way people live. However, ensuring a just transition takes collaboration across every sector of the energy industry. Part of that cooperation will come from policy; fortunately, the Biden Administration is not only setting ambitious goals but is actively taking steps to attain them.
After Ms. Venzke concluded her remarks, she handed the program to Amanda Lefton, Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), who delivered a keynote address and provided an update on the Biden Administration’s offshore wind policies and progress to-date; Director Lefton began her remarks noting while our country faces a multitude of interlocking challenge — such as a racial injustice, economic uncertainty, a global pandemic, and a climate crisis — prioritizing renewable offshore wind development in the U.S. will inevitably help quell these pressing and systemic issues. However, offshore wind positively impacting communities and creating jobs is only possible through a collaborative approach.
Director Lefton concluded her keynote address perfectly when she stated:
“Climate change poses an existential threat to all of us and the time to act is now. Transitioning to clean energy will be critical to help the U.S. tackle this issue. Offshore renewable wind energy can help communities be a part of the climate solution by providing clean energy and job creation, particularly in underserved communities. But the full environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind can only be realized if we all come together to ensure that all potential development is considered and advanced responsibly.” — Amanda Lefton, Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
After the Director Lefton’s keynote speech, the event moved to a moderated Q&A with Director Lefton.
During the Q&A, Director Lefton addressed the biggest challenges for BOEM achieving the 30 by 30 goal. Director Lefton commented how transmission is going to be a major constraint. However, sufficient interconnection and onshore transition as well as a planned offshore grid would help overcome this hurdle.
Another limiting factor to overcome in reaching the 30 by 30 goal is the lack of an existing supply chain in the U.S. The easily stated albeit vastly intensive solution is to simply build one. However, to assure a durable and sustainable U. S. supply chain infrastructure, developers must make the necessary investments.
Lastly, Director Lefton noted while process is a challenge BOEM has to overcome, it’s also tremendously beneficial. Improving processes to be more streamlined, thorough, reliable, and efficient will strengthen industry trust and certainty while simultaneously allowing BOEM to review projects and bids at a faster pace. Standardizing process also allows for greater engagement of all stakeholders.
The next question centered around what actions can be taken to ensure that the Biden Administration’s offshore wind priorities remain part of the long-term solution in the renewable energy transition. While offshore wind projects from start to finish take a fair amount of time, Director Lefton commented on how gaining momentum is a great way to safeguard these projects as lasting investments.
A prominent theme woven into Director Lefton’s remarks was that offshore wind is a market that encapsulates strong collaboration between all stakeholders. The event then transitioned to a panel discussion, which included a diverse panel of stakeholders within the offshore wind market and was a prime example of partnerships in action.
Panel moderator Allison Ziogas, U.S. Labor Relations Manager at Ørsted, began the discussion by noting that while climate change is a tremendously daunting task to tackle it is also biggest economic opportunity of the century. Transitioning to a green economy, both at the speed and scale that science demands, means transforming how society is powered. The conversation amongst the panelists began by each commenting on the key factors that will best enable offshore wind development.
Congressman Norcross, NJ-01, noted the gravity of policy, pointing to how the building blocks for clean energy are contained within the physical bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan.
Though David Hardy, CEO at Ørsted Offshore North America, acknowledged the importance of policy, reaching the Administration’s 30 by 30 goal will require the industry’s help. Hardy is encouraged by current policy and believes Congressional action through these two bills can go a long way to facilitate industry growth and expansion. He noted the bills contain tax incentives giving the industry and developers confidence that investing in offshore wind projects is not capricious but instead intentional.
Agreeing with the importance of industry, Brent Booker, Secretary-Treasurer at NABTU, stressed the role of unions in reaching carbon neutrality goals. Booker echoed Hardy’s comments around policy sparking transformation, especially around Congress’s role of strengthening unions through labor protections and registered apprenticeship programs and attaching labor standards to long-term tax credits.
Lee Laurendeau, CEO of American Offshore Structures at EEW Group, stressed how tax incentives help the supply chain by creating the necessary technology to scale offshore wind projects.
Throughout each answer, every panelist noted that reaching carbon goals and transitioning to a renewable, green economy means collaboration across the sector. The conversation then centered around questions focusing on how we can ensure a just transition during the offshore wind and renewable energy sector transformation.
Booker commented that to ensure a just transition, the American worker needs to be at the center of the conversation when it comes to offshore wind agreements. Union workers want to be part of the solution — it’s up to the industry to give them the ability to work.
“As we tackle climate change and transition into renewables, we need to ensure workers have good paying wages, healthcare, and pensions. Prior to offshore wind, unions and labor workers haven’t been able to point to an industry that has put the American worker at the forefront of the conversation.” — Brent Booker, Secretary-Treasurer of North America’s Building Trades Unions
Hardy pointed to agreements like Ørsted’s national offshore wind agreement and associated local project labor agreements as being a critical tool to ensure a just transition; he summarized the relationship between offshore wind and a just transition best when he said:
“The opportunity that offshore wind brings is not only about green energy, the environment, and staving off the climate disaster but also creates an opportunity to make an American industry, create middle class jobs, and a platform to have a just transition.” — David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America
However, in order to ensure a just transition, the job opportunities must be available in the U.S. in the first place; one way to do this is to build out a domestic supply chain. Laurendeau chimed in to discuss the incentives and proposals that compelled EEW to bring his facility to New Jersey. While there are many factors that incentivize investment in supply chain facilities and technology, predictability there will be a marketplace trumps all other factors.
“Predictability is incredibly important to help manage domestic supply chain risk; if you’re going to do a major investment, the question becomes is there predictability that the wind industry is truly going to flourish and will there be a marketplace.” — Lee Laurendeau, CEO of EEW American Offshore Structures Inc.
But even with assurance that the wind industry will flourish, establishing and expanding a domestic supply chain is no small feat. Adapting to a rapidly evolving industry means addressing technical challenges and scaling projects all while simultaneously chasing the technology curve — such dealing with the increasing dimensions of monopiles.
Quickly meeting production and supply market and user needs in the U.S. while concurrently playing catch up with Europe and collapsing 30 years of costs quicky requires sources of funding — particularly with help from state and federal governments. These funding sources and investments will not only facilitate predictability in the market and cut the cost curve but also allow the market to get to grid parity quickly.
Given the inevitable reliance on government aid to incentivize projects, Ziogas led the discussion towards what the Administration can do to ensure the supply chain meets state and federal goals in order to efficiently execute the expansion of offshore winds.
The main response? Assure predictability.
Administrative policies will only be as helpful and useful as they are predictable. The desire for consistency spanned across every aspect of the offshore wind implementation process.
Examples of desired predictability ranged from both the internal Administration side — such as creating a more streamline, thorough, and concise permitting process — to the implementation and labor side, as the union sector wants to rely on a steady stream of projects that funnel workers from their skills trainings to directly to well paying, middle-class jobs.
Congressman Norcross wonderfully brought the conversation full circle by tying back how the role of policy investing in the clean energy and offshore wind supply chain creates predictability.
“Bringing the supply chain back to the United States gives us stability and predictability that the infrastructure development products will be readily available when we need them.” — Congressman Norcross, NJ-01
Committing to a green and sustainable economy starts with policy makers laying out a vision in which the industry can begin to build a foundation.
While accelerating the clean and renewable markets is undoubtedly exciting, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. As we collectively work towards a clean energy future and determine the long-term viability of sustainable solutions, we must ensure we do this right.
“There’s a long road to haul here, but through our commitments to communities, our commitments to good paying jobs, and a commitment to a healthy environment…a robust clean economy [is] a reality.” — Allison Ziogas, U.S. Labor Relations Manager at Ørsted
Offshore wind will undoubtably be an increasingly larger portion of the clean energy transition, but it’ll only be as successful as the cooperation between organizations and policy.
Having honest, open, transparent, and often difficult conversations means bringing the right stakeholders to the table -which is what Dynamo does best. Achieving ambitious goals will take collaboration and cooperation across all sectors of the energy economy — Dynamo is equipped to facilitate those dialogues, break technology silos, and spark innovative conversations to achieve our ambitious goals.
Powering the Future: 30GW of Offshore Wind by 2030
The Biden administration has announced ambitious and achievable plans to decarbonize the power sector targeting net zero economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions, including 30GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The event began with an update on the the Biden Administration’s offshore wind policies and progress to-date.
Offshore Wind: Sparking Growth and Opportunity Across the Nation
Meeting the necessary scope and speed of a clean energy transition while sustainably meeting the challenges of the 21st Century requires mobilization across government and the private sector. New Jersey, now on a path to power 7,500MW of clean energy with offshore wind, is a case study demonstrating how industry and government can mobilize to create good-paying union jobs and ensure a just transition.
This second panel highlighted how a coalition of industry, local leadership, and advocates are building opportunities through offshore wind to ensure no American is left behind in the energy transition.
Pamela Farrell Venzke joined Ørsted NA in May 2020 as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. In this role, Pamela is responsible for shaping Ørsted’s public strategy as the global offshore wind leader and newly-minted world’s most sustainable company. She oversees teams managing public affairs, communications, sustainability, investor relations, government and regulatory affairs as well as union relations. She is a member of the North American Leadership team and reports directly to CEO David Hardy. Pamela came to Ørsted from GE, where she led global government affairs and policy for GE Power. She was a member of the GE Power Executive Leadership team and served on GE’s Corporate Law & Policy Council. She began her career at GE in 2001 and served in government and external affairs positions in technology, consumer and industrial, energy and infrastructure. She has worked at the state, federal and global level and spent the last ten years with GE working primarily in emerging markets helping countries design policy regimes to promote clean energy investments, create jobs and drive economic opportunity. Prior to joining GE, Pamela served for six years on the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, where she had responsibility for the oversight of the defense science and technology portfolio and served as lead staff of the Emerging Threats & Capabilities Subcommittee. Pamela has a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC and a master’s in business administration from the American University, Washington, DC. She is based in Washington, DC, where she resides with her husband and daughter.
Amanda Lefton currently serves as the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Prior to serving as the Director for BOEM, Amanda Lefton most recently served as the First Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment for the Governor of New York where she led the State’s climate and environmental initiatives and managed a portfolio of twelve agencies and authorities. In this role she championed and advanced implementation of landmark nation leading climate and renewable energy strategies. Previously, Amanda was the Deputy Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York, worked in the labor movement for the Rochester Regional Joint Board of Workers United, and for the New York State Assembly. She also worked for the State Senate.
Originally from Queens, NY, Ms. Lefton grew up on Long Island, NY, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University at Albany.
Congressman Donald Norcross, NJ-01
Congressman Norcross spent his career as an electrician connecting power to New Jersey businesses and industrial sites. He rose through the ranks and eventually became a business agent for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 351, as well as President of the Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO, where he advocated on behalf of thousands of hardworking men and women for nearly 20 years.
As CEO, Hardy oversees all North American offshore wind activities, including development and operations for Ørsted’s current and future portfolio of U.S. projects.
Prior to joining Ørsted, Hardy held U.S. and global senior executive roles in the wind energy industry working in leadership positions at both Senvion and Vestas. He also spent a large portion of his career at GE in commercial leadership positions, as well as roles at other high-tech industrial companies. Additionally, he served for more than eight years in the U.S. Navy submarine community.
A third-generation laborer and a graduate of the University of Virginia, Brent Booker is the secretary-treasurer of NABTU. Since becoming Secretary-Treasurer, Booker has been a driving force in the strategic repositioning of NABTU, as well as conducting ongoing outreach efforts targeted to construction owners and end-users focusing on the overall value of NABTU.
Additionally, Booker has been appointed as a trustee to various industry groups in the nuclear, power generation, oil and gas, and chemical industries and serves as an officer for the Center for Military Recruitment, Assessment and Veterans’ Employment (CMRAVE) and CPWR-The Center for Construction Research and Training. Before assuming the position of secretary-treasurer of NABTU in 2012, Booker served as director of the Construction Department at the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), a position held since 2007. He has served as the labor section co-chair and president of the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee, Inc (NMAPC).
Lee Laurendeau currently serves as the CEO of American Offshore Structures at EEW Group. For the past two years, Laurendeau has been working as CEO to build the new offshore wind industry in the US. Prior to EEW, Laurendeau served as Director of Operations at Holtec International, where he was responsible for the design, construction and fit out of Holtec’s new technology center recently constructed in Camden, NJ. He also served as the Director Business Development – Renewable Energy and Battery Storage at Johnson Controls, where he developed multi-million dollar energy projects with the military, government, colleges, hospitals throughout the Northeast. In addition to his work with Johnson Controls, he was also the Founder and CEO of PV Design Associates which was acquired by Johnson Controls in 2011. Laurnedeau received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and his Master’s in Engineering Management from NJIT. He is a graduate of GE’s Manufacturing Management Program and received a Six Sigma Black Belt certification from Villanova University.
Allison Ziogas, U.S. Labor Relations Manager, Ørsted
Allison Ziogas is Ørsted’s U.S. labor relations manager, responsible for building relationships with trade union representatives at the state and national levels and negotiating agreements, as well as disseminating information throughout the company, and with vendors, to ensure Ørsted’s labor policies are adhered to in all procurement, construction and operational activities. Ziogas comes to Ørsted from an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers minority-certified, full-service contractor where she served as an electrical foreman in the Bronx, N.Y. She worked as a union organizer for the Teamsters and has vast experience working on labor relations matters, including serving on the NYC Central Labor Council Planning Committee and as a delegate to the IBEW Women’s Conference.
A Renewed Focus on the American Clean Energy Economy
Tuesday, September 28 2021
4:30 PM EST