Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Back to the Regulators

After six months in the General Assembly, the focus of the effort to bring offshore wind power to Delaware returns to state and federal regulators. The News Journal reports that the Public Service Commission has scheduled one last public hearing before a schedule vote on the proposal:
The commission approved a date of July 31 for a final vote by the PSC, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Office of Management and Budget and the General Assembly’s Controller General’s Office.
The PSC also set July 17 for an evening public hearing in Dover on the contract, along with a deadline of July 25 for written public comments to be submitted to the PSC.
Yesterday also brought news of progess on setting up a federal permitting process. The Minerals Management Service, which is part of the Interior Department, published proposed regulations guiding the siting of offshore wind power projects in federal waters:
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) today published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (2.04 MB PDF file) that will regulate alternative energy production activities and alternate uses of existing facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The proposed rule is accompanied by a draft environmental assessment analyzing the potential environmental effects of the rulemaking in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The proposed regulations will establish a program to grant leases, easements, and rights-of-way (ROW) for orderly, safe, and environmentally responsible alternative energy project activities and alternate uses of existing facilities on the OCS. The rule will also establish methods for sharing revenues generated by this program with nearby coastal States.
Bluewater Wind's Peter Mandelstam cheered the news:
"That was the piece that we were waiting for and you were waiting for," Mandelstam said. Bluewater officials said they will read the rules closely and reply with comments promptly, in hopes the rules can be enacted before the turnover in the White House in January.
The worst-case scenario would be for the federal government to not know how to respond to the proposed project. (I've been there.) Hopefully the proposed regulations will move ahead as quickly as possible.

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