The World of Offshore Wind: Log Lunch with Megan Higgins

On an unseasonably warm November 4th, the Log Lunch community gathered over a delicious meal of slow roasted tomatoes, kale pesto orzo, cabbage apple slaw, collard chips, and a salad with collard greens, chickpeas, and apple to learn about offshore wind power from Megan Higgins.

After majoring in environmental studies and recognizing the impact of climate change while studying abroad in Australia, Megan studied law and worked in marine policy, before bringing her expertise to the field of renewable energy. As the Senior Director of Offshore Business Development at Avangrid, Megan has had the opportunity to lead the company’s work in the rapidly growing U.S. offshore wind industry.

Megan spoke not only about her own experience in the industry, but also outlined how offshore wind development works, noting the many, incredibly time-intensive steps that go into planning, permitting, and offshore projects. She outlined the two existing offshore wind projects in the United States, off of Rhode Island and Virginia, and outlined how the projects Avangrid are currently developing will provide energy. Vineyard Wind 1 and Kitty Hawk Wind,  two projects in Avangrid’s portfolio, which combined will potentially power nearly one and a half million households. Both of these projects require years of effort in permitting, construction, and collaboration with local communities. Megan made sure to emphasize the scope of these projects; for instance, each blade is the length of two football fields. Transmission cables also must travel far — 35 miles in the case of the Vineyard Wind 1 Project — to make landfall. When developing and researching offshore wind opportunities, developers have to pay attention to numerous stakeholders, ranging from those concerned with aesthetics, to fisheries, to labor and employment, to historic preservation.

Through explaining the many challenges and opportunities of offshore wind development, Megan engaged an enthusiastic crowd of Williams students, allowing them to recognize the interdisciplinary, dynamic work that goes into creating renewable energy. She ended by outlining career opportunities in the offshore wind field, noting that a range of skills and backgrounds can all be instrumental in helping these projects become reality.

Log Lunch is a CES program hosted every Friday at noon. During Log Lunch, a vegetarian meal prepared by Williams students is served, followed by a talk on an environmental topic. Speakers are drawn from both the student body and faculty of Williams, as well as from local, national, and international organizations. Learn more here.


Megan Higgins (right) and Sarah Gardner, director of CES