Thursday, April 22, 2010

MMS Sets Path for Approval for Offshore Wind

Aaron Nathans reports in the News Journal that the Minerals Management Service of the Interior Department has established a regulatory path forward for NRG Bluewater Wind and other offshore wind power developers:
"This is the final piece of the puzzle that allows NRG Bluewater Wind to proceed: to obtain permits, finance and construct this project," Mandelstam said. "All of the other pieces of the puzzle are in place."
There is little more difficult than seeking approval from a regulatory agency for a project that has never been proposed or reviewed before. (I know, I've worked on such a project for the City of Wilmington.) The agency knows it has to do something, but what?
The MMS procedure sets a path for offshore wind power projects to gain approval on an expedited basis:
"If responses indicate there is no competitive interest in this area, the agency may proceed with the noncompetitive lease process. Whether the leasing process is competitive or noncompetitive, it will include public participation as well as a thorough environmental review conforming with all applicable laws."
Oil companies compete for offshore leases, but the companies racing to build offshore wind are not competing for the same locations. Bluewater, Deepwater and Fisherman's Energy are all busy enough developing their separate sites, so they won't be slowing things down by fighting for particular locations. The MMS process gives offshore wind developers a clear and predictable path forward that allows them to plan the engineering, permitting and financing, and maintain a leading position in the race to build offshore wind power in the U.S.


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