90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
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.

Guest:

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

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

September 29 5 Comments

Michigan Coach Faces Criticism For Keeping QB In Play

University of Michigan quarterback Shane Morris was having trouble standing on his own after a major sack. The coach kept him in the game.

September 29 24 Comments

Methodist Pastor Faces Last Church Trial

Reverend Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating his son's same-sex marriage and later reinstated, awaits one more church trial. He writes about the experience in a new memoir.

September 29 3 Comments

Monarch Butterflies Could Be On Rebound

After precipitous declines in the monarch butterfly population, there are signs the species may be on the rebound.

September 26 4 Comments

Dean Of Boston Sports Journalism Celebrates 42 Years On The Job

Here & Now's Robin Young visits the most-beloved sportscaster you've never heard of: Jonny Miller.