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Military gives preliminary OK to Va. wind tracts

Wind turbines could co-exist with military activities off Virginia's coast depending on their locations, a Defense Department assessment has concluded. Proponents of commercial wind power 12 miles or beyond Virginia's coast believe the giant turbines could ultimately provide 10 percent of the state's annual electricity demand.

RICHMOND, Va. -- Wind turbines could co-exist with military activities off Virginia's coast depending on their locations, a Defense Department assessment has concluded.

Proponents of commercial wind power 12 miles or beyond Virginia's coast believe the giant turbines could ultimately provide 10 percent of the state's annual electricity demand and operate without incident in the military's busy seas.

"I look at this as a very positive thing," said Hank Giffin, a retired Navy vice admiral and a member of a coalition promoting offshore winds. "Initially there were a lot of people who were concerned the Navy would just say no."

Released Wednesday, the Department of Defense assessment looks at 25 tracts identified for optimum winds. The report identifies 18 tracts as compatible with military needs and rules as long as certain guidelines are met. They were not detailed in the report.

Other tracts were ruled out because they conflict with Navy activities.

The area is used to test drones and by helicopters that sweep the ocean surface with mine-detecting sleds. Wind-power advocates have said they will honor the military's concerns and not build where there are potential conflicts.

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Wind turbines could co-exist with military activities off Virginia's coast depending on their locations, a Defense Department assessment has concluded.

Proponents of commercial wind power 12 miles or beyond Virginia's coast believe the giant turbines could ultimately provide 10 percent of the state's annual electricity demand and operate without incident in the military's busy seas.

"I look at this as a very positive thing," said Hank Giffin, a retired Navy vice admiral and a member of a coalition promoting offshore winds. "Initially there were a lot of people who were concerned the Navy would just say no."

Released Wednesday, the Department of Defense assessment looks at 25 tracts identified for optimum winds. The report identifies 18 tracts as compatible with military needs and rules as long as certain guidelines are met. They were not detailed in the report.

Other tracts were ruled out because they conflict with Navy activities.

The area is used to test drones and by helicopters that sweep the ocean surface with mine-detecting sleds. Wind-power advocates have said they will honor the military's concerns and not build where there are potential conflicts.

The wind industry fared better with the military than oil and gas proponents, who were told by the Pentagon that exploration 50 miles off the Virginia coast would interfere significantly with military operations.

Both industries have to contend with Naval Station Norfolk, the world's largest naval base, a NASA launch facility on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and other military facilities that operate in Hampton Roads.

But submarines and most live munitions practices occur beyond the ideal area for wind turbines -- 12 to 25 miles offshore and on the continental shelf, where water depths are a relatively shallow 100 feet. The 222-square-mile area identified by the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service for wind energy is also much smaller than the 4,500 square miles identified off Virginia for offshore oil and gas areas.

The Defense Department report was released by the Virginia Offshore Wind Coalition. The Navy did not immediately respond to The Associated Press for comment. Some portions of the report, deemed classified, were not released.

The Navy has an interest in supporting renewable energy such as wind. It has set a goal of achieving 50 percent of its land-based energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

"The Navy is willing to work with the offshore wind industry because they know the importance of it, and they're really enthusiastic for the opportunity to work with us," said Giffin, who is affiliated with the coalition.

The coalition has identified 25 leasing tracts that could generate 3,200 megawatts of offshore wind. Within two decades, 9,700 to 11,600 jobs could be created with the development off an offshore wind industry, a coalition study concluded.

Developers of what would be the nation's first offshore wind farm won federal approval in late April. Developers of the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off Massachusetts want to generate power by 2012.

Two energy companies have expressed interest in the Virginia tracts, which are not likely to be developed for five years or more.


Source: http://www.businessweek.com...

MAY 20 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/26371-military-gives-preliminary-ok-to-va-wind-tracts
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