01 Dec 2010 09:12:46
US commits to support of offshore wind
The US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, has launched a new wind energy initiative, , to speed offshore wind energy development off the Atlantic Coast.
The move is expected to facilitate siting, leasing and construction of new projects. Salazar said the focus now needs to be on implementing "a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough, and unburdened by needless red tape".
Under the Smart from the Start initiative, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) will work with state partners to identify wind energy areas (WEAs) off the coasts of a number of Atlantic states, including Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts within the next 60 days.
BOEMRE is proposing a revision to its regulations that will simplify the leasing process for offshore wind in situations where there is only one qualified and interested developer. The revision will potentially save up to 6-12 months in the leasing process.
WEAs are offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development. Data would continue to be collected for these high priority areas to inform government and industry assessments and planning, allowing a more efficient process for permitting and siting responsible development.
By January 2011, Requests for Interest and Calls for Information will be issued for these new WEAs to support lease sale environmental assessments.
Maryland's Request for Information has already been issued and those for New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts are being developed. Additional WEAs will be identified in 2011 for other Atlantic States, which may include areas offshore New York, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
BOEMRE will assist in developing site assessment data and evaluating potential WEA leasing.
If no significant impacts are identified in WEAs, BOEMRE would offer leases in these areas by the end of 2011/early 2012. BOEMRE will work directly with project proponents to ensure that those reviews take place on aggressive schedules with frequent interagency communications and dedicated staff.
To address the need for transmission infrastructure to bring this offshore power ashore, BOEMRE will move forward aggressively, on a parallel track, to process applications to build offshore transmission lines.