, June 23, 2009 (ENS) - The federal government Tuesday issued five exploratory leases for wind energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of New Jersey and Delaware, the first leases of their kind ever authorized.
At a news conference this morning in Atlantic City, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, joined by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, announced the leases that allow the construction of meteorological towers from six to 18 miles offshore. Instruments mounted on the towers will collect site-specific data on wind speed, intensity, and direction.
“We are entering a new day for energy production in the United States – a time of clean energy from renewable domestic sources on our Outer Continental Shelf,” Secretary Salazar said. “Other nations have been using offshore wind energy for more than a decade."
"We made the development of offshore wind energy a top priority for Interior," Salazar said. "The technology is proven, effective and available and can create new jobs for Americans while reducing our expensive and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”
Secretary Salazar issued the exploratory leases to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy for two meteorological towers - one offshore New Jersey and one offshore Delaware; to Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey for one tower; and to Deepwater Wind for two towers offshore New Jersey.
The data collected under these leases will be shared with Interior’s Minerals Management Service and used to inform and support future commercial renewable energy projects, such as wind turbine farms, to help coastal States meet mandated renewable energy portfolio standards.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in Western hat, listens to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine at the news conference announcing first offshore wind leases, surrounded by workers who will help build the project towers. (Photo by Tim Larsen courtesy Office of the Governor)
“This is tremendous news for New Jersey and I thank Secretary Salazar and the Obama Administration for issuing these leases which are so critical to getting the development of our offshore wind turbine projects underway,” said Governor Corzine.
“New Jersey’s Outer Continental Shelf is a resource that holds a great promise for our energy independence and should be considered a haven for the clean, renewable and environmentally friendly energy that wind power provides," the governor said. "This is a major step for the state in meeting its goal of 1,000 megawatts by 2013 and 3,000 megawatts by 2020.”
Comparing this amount of power generation with New Jersey's nuclear power plants, the governor said, "Oyster Creek has 650 megawatts, Salem has 750 to 850, so you're creating with 3,000 megawatts an enormous amount of production to replace other energy sources that may be more controversial."
"I'm pleased that the risk capital appears to be here," said Governor Corzine. "To go to their bankers, the developers need to know there's enough wind on a consistent basis to make these wind farms work. We're confident that will be the case, but it has to be proven."
Bluewater Wind's founder and president Peter Mandelstam, who also chairs the offshore wind group in the United States, said, "It's really a great day, that these leases have been announced, that the money is available to build these projects, to create these jobs."
"We have agreed in Delaware to be 100 percent union, and we will do that here in New Jersey," he said. "We want to bring as many jobs as we can, the manufacturing jobs too."
Deepwater Wind's Jim Lennert also said his company's projects would be 100 percent staffed by union members. "There are 30 offshore wind projects operating in Europe but none in the United States. We're going to turn this around," he said. "There are 10 projects in development, but 60 percent of that investment will go to Europe because we don't have the manufacturing power."
Danny Cohen from Fishermen's Energy, a consortium formed by principals of East Coast fishing companies, said the commercial fishing industry of New Jersey is "committed to sustainable harvesting and development of offshore wind."
"We're in a paradigm shift to support wind," Cohen said. "Governor Corzine has taken a real leadership role to do studies three years ago. It's important to have the environmental data because we want to develop in a responsible and forward thinking manner."
"There is a great opportunity here, Atlantic City could become the queen of wind offshore wind energy development," said Cohen.
Governor Corzine said he expects that by 2013 several of the wind parks will come online and begin generating power.
Secretary Salazar said these wind projects will bring billions of dollars into New Jersey. "Each of these wind parks are billion to billion and half dollars. Half of that is for the turbines alone - so $7.5 billion altogether," he said.
In Delaware, Delmarva Power signed a power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind for up to 200 megawatts in June 2008, and the pact was ratified by the state in July 2008. Delaware’s average offshore winds have the potential to produce 5,286 megawatts, which would power between 1.2 to 1.5 million average homes, according to the University of Delaware's Environmental Footprint Workgroup.
President Barack Obama and Secretary Salazar announced the final comprehensive framework for Outer Continental Shelf renewable energy development on Earth Day, April 22, and it becomes effective on June 29.
It provides the “rules of the road” for states and companies with renewable energy initiatives to pursue development of those projects on federal submerged lands as well as methods for sharing 27.5 percent of the revenues generated from these projects with adjacent coastal States.
Salazar said today that he will soon announce a streamlining of federal regulations to make offshore wind development easier to accomplish.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.
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