Obama admin to sign agreement promoting Great Lakes wind power

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 30, 2012

The Obama administration today will announce an agreement with states to promote offshore wind power in the Great Lakes, according to an administration source.

White House officials are scheduled to join the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania to announce a new agreement among federal and state regulators to streamline reviews of proposed wind farms.

The announcement by Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman will include an action plan that “sets priorities and recommends steps for efficiently and responsibly evaluating proposed offshore wind power projects in the Great Lakes region.”

The move is intended to promote the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy policy, which includes a strong focus on expanding renewable wind.

Offshore wind has grown steadily in Europe but efforts have sputtered in the United States, where firms are yet to break ground on a commercial-scale facility. The Obama administration last April approved the first-ever offshore wind project off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., but the plan stalled after struggling to find a buyer for its power.

The Interior Department has taken significant steps to plan new offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean, where it recently completed an environmental review that clears the way for lease sales as early as this year off the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey (Greenwire, Feb. 2).

Today’s announcement will discuss ways to accelerate wind in the Great Lakes, where federal oversight is more limited. It comes nearly a year and a half after the White House convened a workshop in Chicago to discuss offshore wind development with industry, government regulators and environmental advocates (Greenwire, Oct. 28, 2010).