|Energy Secretary Steven Chu urged more affordable wind power: “You need to drive reliability up so the costs go down.’’|
East Coast waters targeted for 4 wind farms
US to spend $50m to hasten projects
NORFOLK, Va. — Officials have identified four large swaths of ocean along the East Coast as ripe for offshore wind farm development, and leases could be issued by the end of this year, the US Department of the Interior said yesterday.
The US Department of Energy also said it intends to spend more than $50 million over the next five years to speed development of the farms and help meet President Obama’s goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean-energy sources by 2035.
The funding will include money to develop technology to make wind power more affordable.
“You need to drive that reliability up so the costs go down,’’ Energy Secretary Steven Chu told reporters at a news conference.
The Interior Department said the four sites it has identified are off the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey.
Those states will receive expedited environmental reviews to help fast-track the projects, which are expected to create thousands of jobs.
“We applaud the decision to substantially shorten the permitting process in a way that will allow project developers to attract the investment necessary to support offshore wind projects,’’ said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in a statement.
In November, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power to avoid potential conflicts.
Calls to streamline the process came after an eight-year review that finally resulted in a lease for Cape Wind — the nation’s first wind farm, off the coast of Massachusetts — being signed in October.
Each of the four sites identified yesterday are off major tourist destinations, including Atlantic City, N.J.; Ocean City, Md.; and Virginia Beach, Va.
However, Salazar said the wind farms would be between 10 to 20 miles offshore — far enough that beachgoing vacationers wouldn’t have their views ruined.