The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the governors of 10 East Coast states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 8 that formally establishes the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium. The new consortium will promote the development of wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) along the East Coast, primarily by coordinating state and federal efforts relating to permitting, environmental studies, technical and financial barriers, and the infrastructure needed to deploy and maintain offshore wind power plants. The MOU was signed by the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. DOI’s new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will oversee the development of wind power and other renewable energy resources on the OCS. In addition, DOI will establish a new renewable energy regional office, located in Virginia, to coordinate the development of wind and solar energy and other renewable energy resources in the region. See the DOI press release and the MOU (PDF 28 KB), which is posted on the Web site of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Download Adobe Reader.
Several offshore wind energy projects have been proposed for East Coast states, positioning the region to tap into the potential of U.S. wind power. For example, on April 21, DOI approved Cape Wind, a 130-turbine wind power project in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast. In addition, NRG Bluewater Wind has proposed wind power projects off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey; Deepwater Wind is involved with projects off the coasts of Rhode Island and New Jersey; and a public-private partnership in New York State is developing a 350-megawatt offshore wind project. The Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project would be located about 13 nautical miles off the Rockaway Peninsula, which is in the New York City borough of Queens. Meanwhile, a recent study by Stony Brook University and the University of Delaware finds that linking a string of East Coast offshore wind plants with a transmission line would help to smooth out power fluctuations caused by the weather. The University of Delaware is also teaming up with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a test site for commercial wind turbines off the Delaware coast. See the Web sites for Cape Wind, NRG Bluewater Wind, Deepwater Wind, and the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project, as well as the press releases from Stony Brook University and NREL.
The Atlantic coastal region isn’t the only site with gusts of offshore wind power activity. On June 4, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced the start of a multi-phase review process for five proposals vying to construct the Great Lakes Offshore Wind project, which would be located in the New York State waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario. NYPA expects to pick a developer by early next year, followed by about five years of permitting and construction before the project achieves commercial operation. And in May, the General Electric Corporation (GE) and the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation (LEEDCo) made public their long-term partnership, aimed at the development of an offshore wind farm near Cleveland, Ohio,. Under the new partnership, GE will provide direct-drive wind turbines to LEEDCo’s proposed 20-megawatt offshore wind project in the Ohio waters of Lake Erie. The project is targeted for completion in late 2012. See the press releases from NYPA and LEEDCo (PDF 396 KB).