The battle lines are drawn for supremacy in the developing US offshore wind-generation business as various states vie to be the first to achieve that crucial milestone – going online. So what stage are we currently at in this all-important race? Jennifer Zajac of SNL Energy is your guide to the current movers and shakers … After years of encountering NIMBO, (Not in My Beautiful Ocean), sentiment and regulatory uncertainty, the US may finally see its first offshore wind project begin operations within the next three years.
President Barack Obama announced on Earth Day, 22 April, that the US Interior Department had finalized a framework that established a program to grant leases, easements and rights of way for development activities such as the siting and construction of offshore wind farms. Since its release, a number of projects have gained momentum and interest continues to grow in offshore wind, according to Laurie Jodziewicz, manager of siting policy at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
According to SNL Energy, there are about 37 US offshore wind projects in various stages of development. The race is on to see which project will be the first to begin operations. “There’s a lot of interest in being first and it’s difficult to say who will be the first to have an offshore wind farm in the US,” Jodziewicz said.
Nantucket Sound The Cape Wind Offshore project appears to have a solid lead. Touted by the developer as ‘America’s First Offshore Wind Farm on Nantucket Sound’, Cape Wind is the furthest along in the permitting process and has attracted the most attention. Developer Cape Wind Associates, a subsidiary of Energy Management Inc., has spent about eight years and $40m so far on its efforts to build the facility in waters 5.5 miles from Hyannis, Mass. However, opponents have fought the project nearly every step of the way over the potential adverse economic, environmental, aesthetic and public safety impacts it may pose.
In May, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities siting board unanimously approved the proposed 130-turbine offshore wind farm, granting a certificate of environmental impact and public interest that rolls up all state and local permits. A month later, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the town of Barnstable, Mass., and the Cape Cod Commission launched an effort to appeal the decision to the state’s Judicial Supreme Court.