Federal Regulators Eliminate Red Tape for Offshore Wind Turbine Projects

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Federal regulators have settled a dispute over who should regulate offshore wind turbines, resolving a bureaucratic hurdle that has slowed offshore wind development, particularly off the East Coast, reports the St. Petersburg newspaper

Secretary of the Interior (DOI), Ken Salazar and Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff announced that the two agencies will work together to ease the permitting of renewable energy in offshore waters. Secretary Salazar says this agreement will eliminate red tape and allow the nation to “capture the great power of wave, tidal, wind and solar power off our coasts.”

Experts say offshore wind will primarily help congested coastal states that have less opportunity to produce land-based wind energy, especially states like Florida, reports the St. Petersburg newspaper. It’s estimated that Florida’s coastal winds could produce 154,500 gigawatt hours of electricity, nearly 70 percent of the electricity used in Florida in 2007. However, Florida’s utilities have not built offshore wind turbines due to high costs, difficult offshore conditions and environmental opposition, reports the newspaper.

Similarly, a wind farm project slated for Cape Cod, Mass., also has run into environmental opposition. Cape Wind, a Boston-based energy company, is proposing America’s first offshore wind farm, consisting of 130 wind turbines, on Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. The wind farm would produce up to 420 megawatts of electricity, and provide three quarters of the Cape and Islands’ electricity needs.

Reuters recently reported that the $1-billion offshore wind-power farm has moved a step closer to overcoming permit requirements in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board voted last week to grant Cape Wind a Certificate of Environmental Impact and Public Interest that rolls up nine state and local permits related to the electric cables into one composite certificate.

Offshore wind power development has faced opposition in many reaches of the globe. In the UK, shippers complain that it might make the waters dangerous.

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