U.S. Offshore Wind Projects Move Closer To Reality

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dow Jones reported that deal making and development in the wind arena continue even as the economy slows down, with the federal government moving ahead to grant leases for the U.S.'s first offshore wind projects in history and other state-based projects moving to the front burner.

Comments on federal rules to govern a host of alternative energy projects proposed in federal waters off the coast of the drew about 225 responses by Monday's deadline, as the U.S. Mineral Management Service, or MMS, moves ahead with plans to lease the outer continental shelf to several companies.

Maureen Bornholdt, program manager of the MMS offshore alternative energy program, said the Interior Department remains on track to complete drafting the rules by the end of the year, wrapping up a three-year process.

In terms of the first possible offshore project in the U.S., Delaware appears to have jumped to the front of the line to tap into nation's vast ocean wind resource, some 15 years after Europe led the way with the world's first major offshore projects.

Bluewater Wind of Hoboken, N.J., which proposes to build turbines with 40-foot blades about 12 miles off the coast of the state, marked the first wind developer in federal waters to ink a power purchase agreement for its project. Over the summer, the unit of Babcock & Brown inked a 25-year electric power supply contract with public utility Delmarva Power, a unit of Pepco Holdings Inc. (POM). Bluewater said the project could generate 450 megawatts, enough for 110,000 homes.That project, along with several others for the coasts of New York, California, Rhode Island and , as well as separate bid by for Nantucket Sound in , are moving to the front burner. New federal rules will help clear the way for several of them.

Now that federal offshore leases appear on track, a number of regulatory hurdles will likely await the 's offshore wind projects.

Source:  Dow Jones

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