Orange County officials hope a multi-company agreement to create a statewide steel consortium to act as a key link in the supply chain for offshore construction in New York will lead to hundreds of jobs in the Hudson Valley.
Utility National Grid and power generation company RWE are set to announce Monday a plan as part of their joint venture Community Offshore Wind with four steel fabricators to create the consortium. If awarded the project from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, company officials are pledging the move would support hundreds of jobs in the industry.
And if given the final go-ahead, the joint venture plans to build at a permanent site in Orange County for steel manufacturing and processing in Newburgh and New Windsor. The companies part of the agreement include LJUNGSTRÖM, North Shore Steel, Riggs Distler, and Smulders.
"This is the first time we're seeing significant investments in New York to create permanent steel manufacturing facilities to support the offshore wind industry, which will create dozens, if not hundreds of jobs," said Sam Eaton, a vice president at RWE.
The pitch comes as New York state officials are seeking to scale up manufacturing and production of renewable energy sources in the state amid a decades-long push to transition to cleaner forms of energy in order to curtail the effects of climate change.
At the same time, there are pledges to boost local education in order to expand skills training in the area.
The push will require a mix of wind, solar and hydroelectric technologies, much of which is only now getting underway in order to meet the state's high demand for energy. Complicating that have been disruptions of supply chains around the globe in the wake of the pandemic as well as the war in Ukraine.
"All types of supply chains are constrained by logistics, trying to get materials from around the world," said Eaton, adding the company has been able to adjust and complete multiple large-scale energy projects.
The move would also mean an expansion of manufacturing for New York, which has seen many of those jobs leave in the last several decades.
"All of this gets us into a space that we've been focused on and targeting for a long time," said Maureen Halahan, the president and CEO of the Orange County partnership. "So we're very excited about the opportunities this could bring."
For Orange County officials, there's also the pledge of $1.5 million for Orange County Community College to create a program for students to learn manufacturing skills for jobs at the hubs.
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus pointed to Orange County's geographic advantage, too, between key locations of offshore wind like the Port of Albany and New York City.
"This is a major opportunity," he said. "With our proximity of between halfway to Albany and New York City, I think we're in a very competitive location."