The Obama administration is paving the way for a stronger focus in the United States on wind power, a sector of renewable energy that hasn’t been getting its fair share of focus since solar panel prices began falling.
On Thursday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced a move that would allow fast-paced development of four offshore wind farms.
Though the U.S. currently has a number of wind farms of various sizes located all across the country, there are currently no farms offshore.
But energy companies believe building offshore could be a great jump for renewable power.
And evidently, Salazar agrees. He told USA Today:
“The wind potential off the Atlantic coast is staggering, and no developer should have to wait nine to ten years to get a lease.”
The government approved environmental reviews for four locations off the Mid-Atlantic coast, including New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
For the farm off the coast of New Jersey, at least eleven companies are looking to build. They’ll still need to do their own environmental reviews, but the government has eased the process of receiving leases.
NRG Bluewater Wind has been interested in the Delaware region for a while. Their plan includes 150 turbines off Rehoboth Beach, a plan that almost flopped completely when the company dropped a power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power.
But with the new lease advancement by the federal government, Bluewater could be back on track.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley is excited about the opportunity offshore wind will give the state. Maryland currently has a goal of 20% power from renewable sources by 2022.
This will get the state one step closer, as O’Malley has now proposed a bill to require electric companies to get 2.5% of their power from these offshore turbines.
His previous bill, which was turned down, had the potential to double costs for customers of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. Now, the cost increase will have a cap of $2 a month.
Salazar expects the leases to be approved by the end of this year. It could still be up to five years before construction starts, but getting leases approved will significantly speed up the process.
That’s all for now,