Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Less bureaucracy will mean faster approval for offshore wind energy

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Tuesday knocked down a bureaucratic hurdle that had for years stood in the way of offshore wind development.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Philip Moeller, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, told the Senate energy committee Tuesday their agencies have resolved a dispute over who should regulate wind turbines built far offshore. A memorandum of understanding is being drafted to lay out how the two agencies will share duties.

Government and industry leaders have long complained the disagreement stood in the way of budding efforts to build wind farms off the East Coast.

The resolution underscores the Obama administration's efforts to quickly and aggressively develop America's renewable energy sources.

"What has happened in the past is that we always had a helter-skelter approach," Salazar said. "There was no program or plan that was done."

Experts say offshore wind will be most helpful to congested coastal states that have little opportunity to produce land-based wind energy — states like Florida.

Florida has an enormous offshore wind resource, according to a recent report commissioned by state regulators. The state's coastal winds could produce 154,500 gigawatt hours of electricity, nearly 70 percent of the electricity used in Florida in 2007.

Florida's utilities have not built offshore wind turbines due to high costs, challenging offshore conditions and environmental opposition. Florida Power & Light, the state's largest utility, plans to build a small wind facility on an island off the state's east coast. Not technically an offshore project, it has already run into stiff opposition from activists worried about the turbines' impact on birds.

But Salazar said offshore wind will be part of the Obama administration's comprehensive energy plan.

"The Atlantic Coast offers one of the greatest potentials for wind energy in America, and it would be foolhardy for the United States not to look at offshore wind," Salazar said.

Yet the disagreement between the Interior Department's Minerals Management Agency and FERC stalled efforts to draft regulations for three years.

"From our perspective it has delayed the start of the entire industry," said Chris Wissemann, chief operating officer and founder of Deepwater Wind, which is seeking permits for two projects off New Jersey and Rhode Island that together are worth $2.5 billion.

FPL Group, parent of Florida Power & Light, is the largest wind energy producer in the United States. The company's subsidiary, NextEra Energy Resources, owns wind farms with a capacity of 6,375 megawatts at more than 65 wind farms in 16 states. NextEra has no immediate plans to invest in offshore wind energy, said spokesman Steven Stengel.

Wes Allison can be reached at allison@sptimes.com or (202) 463-0577. Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3117.

Less bureaucracy will mean faster approval for offshore wind energy 03/17/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 17, 2009 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge

    Bucs

    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  2. Carlton: A moment of sanity when citizens finally said no

    Courts

    If you were looking for some small sign of sanity in the world, here's one courtesy of the people of Tampa and Hillsborough County.

    The Confederate memorial statue outside the old Hillsborough courthouse is now boxed up in plywood to prevent vandalism. Private donors have ponied up money to have the statue relocated to a cemetery. [JIM DAMASKE  |  Times]
  3. Review: Jason Aldean fires up a country-dude party at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre

    Blogs

    Country music has a dude problem.

    I’m not talking about the proliferation of mindless bro country over the past half-decade, nor am I referring to the fact that most of Nashville’s best music these days comes not from said bros, from female singers and songwriters.

    Jason Aldean performed at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa on Aug. 18, 2018.
  4. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee: