Interior Secretary Salazar Expecting Surge In Offshore Wind Farms

Dow Jones & Company, Inc. - May 5

> U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday he expects as
> many as a dozen proposals for offshore wind-energy projects in the
> coming months under a new federal program to expedite construction of
> renewable energy projects on federal land and in coastal waters.
> Salazar said the regulatory and jurisdictional bottlenecks that
> have kept wind-energy projects from federally controlled areas are
> being eliminated, allowing a backlog of applications for permits to be
> considered.
> "It's a huge step forward," said Salazar during a speech at the
> American Wind Energy Association's trade show at Chicago's McCormick
> Place Convention Center. "We Americans will lead the world in offshore
> wind energy production."
> The Interior Department recently crafted rules for granting
> right-of-way easements and leases for wind energy projects in coastal
> waters. The department also ironed out a dispute with the Federal
> Energy Regulatory Commission over which agency has primary authority
> over offshore wind farms. Interior is now responsible for regulating
> the wind energy projects, while the energy commission will control
> decisions about siting.
> Offshore wind farms also are subject to state regulations.
> There currently are no offshore wind energy projects in U.S.
> coastal
> waters. But Salazar said he expects federal permit applications to be
> submitted for 10 to 12 projects over the next few months. Salazar said
> each one of these projects would be capable of generating at least 350
> megawatts of electricity.
> A 2006 report by the Interior Department said wind energy in the
> U.S.
> outer continental shelf has the potential to generate 900,000
> megawatts of power, roughly equal to total installed U.S. electrical
> capacity.
> Wind energy has drawn increasing attention lately as the Obama
> administration and Democrats in Congress have promoted wind and solar
> power generation as environmentally friendly options for lessening the
> U.S.'s dependence on imported oil for energy.
> Salazar said billions of acres of federal land in the desert
> southwest and in the northern High Plaines are prime locations for
> renewable energy generation.
> "The clean energy potential on American public lands is
> staggering,"
> said Salazar, a former U.S. senator from Colorado.
> Salazar reaffirmed the administration's support for federal
> legislation mandating that 20% to 25% of the nation's electricity come
> from wind or solar. Bills for renewable energy mandates are pending in
> both the House and Senate.
> But the proposals have drawn stiff opposition from the petroleum
> industry and some Congressional Republicans who argue that a federal
> standard would create an artificial market that would lead to more
> expensive electricity for consumers. Nearly two-thirds of the states
> already have renewable energy requirements.