US governments form consortium for offshore wind energy

Secretary of the Interior (DOI) Ken Salazar and the governors of ten states on the US east coast signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish the ‘Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium.’ The group will promote the efficient, orderly and responsible development of wind energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

The MOU was signed by Salazar and the governors of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Plans to create a consortium to discuss a regional approach to wind energy development along the Atlantic coast were announced in February. All coastal states were invited to join.

Offshore wind energy has economic promise

“Renewable energy resources hold great economic promise,” says Salazar.  “By one estimate, if our nation fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20% of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process.”

Several wind energy projects for the OCS have been proposed for states along the eastern coast, positioning the region to tap into the enormous potential of wind power in the US. Developing the offshore wind energy resource could create thousands of manufacturing, construction and operations jobs, and displace combustion generating plants, which will significantly combat climate change.

“I am very pleased to be joining with the governors of Atlantic coastal states to promote the safe and environmentally responsible development of the exceptional wind energy resources off our coasts,” Salazar adds. “Appropriate development of Outer Continental Shelf wind power will enhance regional and national energy security and create American jobs through the development of energy markets and investments in renewable energy technologies.”

Office of renewable energy to be established

DOI will also establish a new regional renewable energy office in Virginia, to coordinate and expedite the development of wind, solar and other renewable energy resources on the OCS. The new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will oversee development of renewable energy resources on the OCS, and DOI will work with local, state, tribal and federal stakeholders to facilitate the commercial leasing process for offshore renewable energy development through inter-governmental task forces. 

Together, DOI and the governors will use this MOU to facilitate federal-state cooperation for commercial wind development on the OCS off the Atlantic coast, through collaborative efforts on issues of mutual interest.  The consortium will develop an action plan that sets priorities, goals, specific recommendations and steps for achieving the objectives.

Task forces have been formally established with Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland, and are in process for New York, South Carolina and Florida.