US governors swing behind offshore wind power

Source: By David Foxwell, Offshore Wind • Posted: Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A bipartisan coalition of governors in the US has written to President Barack Obama urging further steps to boost the onshore and offshore wind industries in the country.

“We write as governors of states with a long history of innovation and success in the wind industry and a governor of a state poised for tremendous economic and energy benefits of offshore wind energy,” said the governors in this letter. “As the leaders of the Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of the nation’s governors representing states from coast to coast, we agree that wind and solar energy development address many of our states’ and the nation’s important needs such as job creation, economic development, reliable and low cost energy, and cost effective emission reductions. We also agree that one of the best ways to meet the nation’s energy needs is to expand domestic wind and solar energy production and harvest their economic and environmental benefits. We write to you today to suggest actions that your administration can take to expand our states’ wind and solar energy production.”

“We appreciate your dedication to wind and solar energy development and your willingness to work with us and Congress to implement our previous suggestions, such as the multi-year extension of the renewable energy production and investment tax credits, support for the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision Report, and efforts to streamline offshore wind development and auction leases, and ongoing research and development activities that supplement the private sector’s significant investments. The coalition’s collaboration with your administration can bring even more value to our states if you consider the following actions to develop our states’ and the nation’s wind and solar resources.”

The governors asked the President to expedite deployment of offshore wind, stating that it is “an abundant source of renewable energy located near some of our nation’s largest cities and areas of electricity demand.” However, as they noted, the US has only one project off the coast of Rhode Island that recently completed construction and will be placed in service later this year. Europe currently has 11 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind installed. “A new US offshore wind sector could create thousands of jobs in businesses ranging from R&D and engineering to manufacturing and marine construction,” they said.

“The states’ offshore wind industry will not grow without a policy foundation that enables deepwater wind development and signals that the nation is serious about offshore development.  Indeed, not a single offshore wind facility in the US has yet become operational and, therefore, been able to take advantage of the existing tax incentive. We appreciate the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) efforts to streamline the leasing and permitting process and suggest that the following additional steps be taken,” they suggested.

“First, we are concerned about the recently finalised Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study (ACPARS) from the Coast Guard. It is not clear that the approaches detailed in ACPARS properly balance the multiple uses of the ocean. We urge your administration to find a pathway between the Coast Guard and BOEM that allows for the offshore wind industry to move forward and that includes robust collaboration with the states.

“Second, we urge your administration to further streamline the offshore wind energy permitting process, including improving the co-ordination with and timeliness of responses from agencies outside of BOEM that are involved in the review of offshore wind projects.  Reasonable deadlines for agency actions need to be set and met.

“We believe these steps will further advance the development of the nation’s wind and solar energy resources. We look forward to working with you and your administration to further our states’ and the nation’s renewable energy development,” the letter concluded.