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Coastal wind parks await consent

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Multiple reports and studies, especially those published in the last year, suggest the United States, specifically the East Coast, has great potential for offshore wind. The politicized debate over whether to develop wind power offshore has dragged on since the late 1990s, when the first project was proposed in Cape Cod, Mass., off the Nantucket Sound. Since then there have been several other proposals, none of which has been completely approved.

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Multiple reports and studies, especially those published in the last year, suggest the United States, specifically the East Coast, has great potential for offshore wind.

The politicized debate over whether to develop wind power offshore has dragged on since the late 1990s, when the first project was proposed in Cape Cod, Mass., off the Nantucket Sound. Since then there have been several other proposals, none of which has been completely approved.

The Cape Wind project, proposed in 2001, received approval in March from the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs in its Final Environmental Impact Report but is still waiting for approval from a variety of state agencies as well as the Department of Interior`s Mineral Management Services. MMS is currently the organization designated to regulate the renewable projects involving the Outer Continental Shelf, including the offshore wind industry. MMS must also conduct both a draft and final environmental impact statement for each proposed project.

MMS released a draft programmatic environmental impact statement in March for all alternative energy development production and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

WASHINGTON, DC, United States (UPI) -- Multiple reports and studies, especially those published in the last year, suggest the United States, specifically the East Coast, has great potential for offshore wind.

The politicized debate over whether to develop wind power offshore has dragged on since the late 1990s, when the first project was proposed in Cape Cod, Mass., off the Nantucket Sound. Since then there have been several other proposals, none of which has been completely approved.

The Cape Wind project, proposed in 2001, received approval in March from the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs in its Final Environmental Impact Report but is still waiting for approval from a variety of state agencies as well as the Department of Interior`s Mineral Management Services. MMS is currently the organization designated to regulate the renewable projects involving the Outer Continental Shelf, including the offshore wind industry. MMS must also conduct both a draft and final environmental impact statement for each proposed project.

MMS released a draft programmatic environmental impact statement in March for all alternative energy development production and alternative use of facilities on the outer continental shelf, including offshore wind power. Still, no formal regulations have been put in place, and MMS is holding a series of hearings across the country to get a more thorough and broad-scoped view of public opinion on offshore wind. After the hearings the office has said it will release its final EIS report and a streamlined policy for the permitting process.

Cape Wind and other proposed offshore projects will not likely receive a decision until after MMS`s programmatic EIS is finalized. Cape Wind has said it expects to conclude its permitting phase of the project by the middle of 2008 and to be fully built and functioning by the end of 2010.

In 2005 the Long Island Power Authority and FPL Energy, a subsidiary of Florida Power & Light, filed a joint application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers seeking authorization to install a 140 megawatt offshore wind energy park off the south shore of Long Island.

The application came after three years of assessments, including siting and requests for proposals and a power purchase agreement. The 40-turbine project is slated for 3.7 miles southwest of Robert Moses State Park.

'This clean, renewable energy project will produce zero-emissions energy for approximately 44,000 Long Island homes and save 13.5 million barrels of oil over the lifetime of the project,' LIPA said.

The last activity was submission of an updated cost analysis by FPL Energy in the fourth quarter of 2006, estimating about $697 million for their part of the project, said Steve Stengell, spokesman for FPL Energy.

'We`re waiting for LIPA,' he said, before any further action will be taken on the project.

Bluewater Wind has an offshore project proposed in conjunction with Delmarva Power in Delaware. There are two prospective sites, both more than 6 miles from the coast and in visualizations barely visible from the beaches, especially on overcast days.

Planning for the Delaware offshore wind project began in 2006, and the permitting process is ongoing.

There are also failed projects: one off the Gulf Coast in Texas and one in Virginia as well as several in the early stages. There`s a project in Georgia, following a promising report by Southern Company and Georgia Tech, as well as one in South Carolina.

'We believe that given the available wind resources and the extent of the shallow water continental shelf there is considerable ultimate potential for wind power generation off the coast of Georgia,' Sam Shelton, Georgia Tech`s Strategic Energy Institute research program director, said in a release.

'While the 20-year levelized cost of wind power is higher than current production from existing power plants, offshore wind power may become a viable option for green power generation,' Shelton said.

Industry representatives both in the United States and Europe have said there are still many untapped resources onshore that should be evaluated before turning to riskier, more expensive offshore projects. In Europe the situation is slightly different. Many of the best land-based sites have been developed, and companies are taking the next step to offshore locations.

The several proposed projects must receive approval from a laundry list of agencies, both state and federal, before moving forward. While NIMBYism has proven the highest hurdle in Cape Cod, in general, extremely high costs are still the biggest roadblock.

'It`s a promising technology with a lot of opportunity, but the cost is still too high; it`s prohibitive,' said Frank Maisano, a spokesman for a coalition of mid-Atlantic wind developers.

Support for offshore wind was recently demonstrated by the U.S. Department of Energy when it awarded grants to groups in Massachusetts and Texas to build testing facilities for large wind turbine blades to be used in offshore projects. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced in June the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Partnership and the Lone Star Wind Alliance in Texas will each receive up to $2 million in test equipment.

 



Source: http://news.monstersandcrit...

JUL 9 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/9927-coastal-wind-parks-await-consent
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