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Monday, February 13, 2012

White House Fast Tracks Offshore Wind Power

A ship passing the first German windmill offshore power plant in the North Sea. Will the US soon have similar offshore wind projects? (AP)

Right now the U.S. gets about 3 percent of its electricity from wind power.

But all of it comes from windmills on land — none from windmills offshore. Now, in an effort to boost offshore wind use, the White House is setting aside nearly 2,100 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean for development by energy companies– and the administration is doing so in a way that should shave years off the process of getting those offshore wind farms online.

From Massachusetts To Maryland

The new proposed area does not include the Cape Wind project, a proposed wind farm about five miles off the coast of Cape Cod, but it does include other areas in Massachusetts.

“The projects… would be off the coast of five states — Massachusetts and New Jersey I think are the largest areas, and also Maryland and Virginia and Delaware,” Ryan Tracy, energy and environment reporter with the Wall Street Journal told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Generally the farms would be between 10-20 miles off the shore; once farms are 20 miles away, it’s harder to see them from the shore.

How Would It Be Paid For?

Tracy says the biggest question right now is the cost.

“These companies are going to have to overcome a lot of questions about, ‘Are we getting enough benefits in return for these extra costs?’ ” he said.

A Post-Solyndra World

Solyndra was the solar panel maker that filed for bankruptcy after getting more than $527 million in public funds from the Obama administration, and it was a huge embarrassment.

How would frustration over what happened with Solyndra affect approval for offshore wind?

“Wind… does have support from Democrats and Republicans, it’s not as controversial as solar… and a lot of lawmakers… have wind farms in their states,” Tracy said.

“The political question becomes not just can you get people to support the idea but how do you pay for the idea.”

How Much Potential Energy?

“There’s a lot of wind out there, and [if] you can harness all of it you can power millions and millions of homes,” Tracy said.

In Massachusetts, the guestimate is that wind energy could power 70 percent of the state’s homes.


  • Ryan Tracy, energy and environment reporter with the Wall Street Journal

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  • Jcoppeta

    Loan guarantees were for more than 535 million- not 5 million as in above text…

    “Solyndra was the solar panel maker that filed for bankruptcy after getting more than $5 million in public funds from the Obama administration, and it was a huge embarrassment.”

    • Jryan Bur

      Thanks for pointing this out, we were off. The Wall Street Journal reports the number is $527 millio.
      -Jill Ryan, H&N

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    You know what I *hate* about wind turbines?

    The smokestacks.
    The smoke.
    The smog.
    The mercury output.
    The explosions.
    The spills.
    The limited fuel supply.
    The other countries that control the fuel supply.
    The radiation.
    The death of miners.
    The methane gas releases.
    The huge carbon footprint.
    The increasing cost over time.
    The inefficiency.
    The pipelines.
    The waste.

    I also hate the fact that they look like graceful wind sculptures, that let us see the wind.  I hate the fact that they are quieter than a highway.

    Not really…



    • mel

      Are you saying wind is never limited and always efficient?

      • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

         Wind power like all renewable energy will be here for as long as the earth exists — about a billion years.  That’s as unlimited as it gets.

        Since they have no waste, then they are 100% efficient.

        When wind turbines are distributed over a large area, then they always put out a very consistent amount of power.  There is a large over abundance of renewable energy available.  The sun’s energy that strikes the earth in just five days is greater than all know reserves of oil, coal and gas — combined.


  • Tsb632004

    So which is it $5 million or $535 million?

    • Anonymous

      It’s actually $527 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Our apologies for the mixup.
      -Jill Ryan, H&N

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