The federal government and 10 Atlantic coast states announced formation of an offshore wind consortium to coordinate and expedite development of the alternative energy on the Outer Continental Shelf.
An office for the new consortium will be established in Virginia. The other states signing the memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Department of the Interior were Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and North Carolina.
The new agreement comes as Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is coping with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has raised questions about the future of offshore drilling for oil and gas and made wind energy an appealing alternative.
“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 said in a statement.
But the new agreement also won consent from governors such as Bob McDonnell of Virginia who are not ready to write off offshore drilling.
“I have long advocated an ‘all of the above’ approach to our energy needs,” McDonnell said in a statement. “It’s imperative that we develop all of our domestic energy sources including wind, solar, biomass, nuclear, coal, oil and natural gas.”
In April, McDonnell withdrew from the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition after that group, set up to promote wind energy in general, included his name among supporters of a proposal for mandatory renewable energy standards without his permission. McDonnell says he favors voluntary standards.
Under the new MOU, the consortium will develop an action plan setting priorities, goals, and specific recommendations for developing offshore wind energy. A new Bureau of Ocean Energy Management at Interior will oversee the development of wind and other renewable energy resources on the Outer Continental Shelf in cooperation with the states as well as other stakeholders.
“By one estimate, if our nation fully pursues its potential for wind energy on land and offshore, wind can generate as much as 20 percent of our electricity by 2030 and create a quarter-million jobs in the process,” Salazar said.
The Interior secretary in April approved development of the first offshore wind project off Cape Cod. He noted that several other projects have been proposed along the East Coast.
All Atlantic coastal states were invited to join the new offshore consortium. Though not named as signatories in this week’s announcement, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida are also cooperating with the initiative.
By. Darrell Delamaide