File this under "Think this would happen if W was still president?" Eleven East Coast states and the federal government are getting ahead of the game and joining forces to expedite offshore wind energy deployment in the Atlantic region. The states and the federal government, lead in this agreement by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, are working together to make sure that transmission lines and turbines are developed in an orderly and efficient way, instead of allowing for the permitting process to gain traction.EE News reports:
"I think the sense of the conversation was that we in the United States don't want to be left behind," Salazar said. "We are just at the beginning point; we have a long way to go."
Salazar said the details of the consortium are being developed and that he hopes they will be finalized in 30 days. Participating with Interior in the effort will be the Energy Department, Defense Department and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, he said.
Salazar and state officials also discussed how to speed up the federal permitting process, how to ensure that speculators won't lock up the best places for offshore wind simply by filing numerous claims and how to move forward with respect to transmission, among other issues.
The Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts has been plagued by delays caused by a series of groups pushing for their own interest such as protections for birds and the safeguarding of Native American sacred places. The consortium will streamline permitting and not force investors to wait while the politics gets worked out.
The potential for offshore wind is huge. The U.S. Geological Survey-Minerals Management Service found that total wind potential for the Atlantic region is 1024 gigawatts (GW). 1 GW of wind power supplies between 225,000 to 300,000 average U.S. homes with power annually.