US extends Jones Act to cover offshore wind industry

The United States House of Representatives has adopted new legislation that extends the Jones Act to also cover offshore wind-related activities. This means that all transports between a US port to a point within 200 miles off the US coastline has to be carried out by US-built and US-flagged vessel.

The House of Representatives last week adopted the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, with a majority of 220 votes in favour versus 185 votes against the proposal.

The legislation includes an amendment by Congressman John Garamendi which sees the offshore wind industry to be covered in the Jones Act. This protectionistic law requires all goods transported by water between US ports to be carried by US-flagged vessels that were built in the US and are crewed by US citizens.

“My commonsense amendment simply clarifies that all existing requirements that govern offshore oil and natural gas extraction also apply to renewables. This will enable our domestic maritime industry to support the renewable energy industry and provide a critical economic stimulus for our nation”, says Garamendi.

This extension of the Jones Act makes it incredibly difficult for foreign contractors to operate in the US offshore wind market. Although offshore activities like drilling and pile driving are not covered by the Jones Act, any movement with goods between two points in the US is. This means a foreign installation vessel can not carry more than one foundation or turbine to install multiple units at a time.

The US offshore wind market is expected to become huge due to the country’s massive coastline. While so far there have only been a few small pilot projects, there are several large-scale wind farms in the pipeline. The US currently lacks a capable fleet but Dominion Energy recently announced that it is working on the first Jones Act compliant wind turbine installation vessel. This ship is planned to be operational in December 2023.

Author: Tobias Pieffers

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