Offshore wind projects in the U.S. are about to get a little more help from the federal government, as the U.S. Interior Department has announced such projects will be going through a more streamlined approval process soon.
The Interior Department is going to identify areas off the east coast best suited for wind farm development and streamline wind farm development approvals there.
The Interior Department is going to start doing environmental assessments for proposed “Wind Energy Areas” early next year (with specific areas to be announced within the next couple months). If all goes well, it may start issuing offshore development leases in these areas as early as the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012.
“To fully harness the economic and energy benefits of our nation’s vast Atlantic wind potential, we need to implement a smart permitting process that is efficient, thorough and unburdened by needless red tape,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said regarding the new system.
The Interior Department is also going to “accelerate the processing of planning applications for the transmission lines that would link offshore wind farms to the mainland” (such as the offshore wind superhighway proposed by Google).
Cape Wind Project Moves Forward
In addition to this good news for wind energy enthusiasts, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) this week approved the 15-year Power Purchase Agreement with National Grid to buy energy, capacity, and renewable energy credits from the nation’s first offshore wind project, Cape Wind.
“Massachusetts is now in a position to become a global leader in offshore wind power creating thousands of new jobs and a more secure, hopeful energy future,” Cape Wind President Jim Gordon said on Monday. “This long-term contract not only secures an abundant, inexhaustible clean energy resource but protects consumers from rising fossil fuel and environmental compliance costs.”
Looks like it’s been a good week for offshore wind energy in the U.S.
Photo Credit: Nuon via flickr (CC license)