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United States

US senators push for offshore development legislation and incentives

US: A group of US senators from both parties have introduced a bill to expand the amount of incentives available for offshore wind development.

Pushing for offshore: Ohio senator Sherrod Brown
Pushing for offshore: Ohio senator Sherrod Brown

S. 3226, the Program for Offshore Wind Energy Research and Development (Powered) Act of 2010, would increase the allowance of renewable energy credits for offshore wind under a national renewable electricity standard (RES). The bill has been referred to the Senate committee on energy and natural resources.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced the bill, with co-sponsorship from Delaware Democrats Thomas Carper and Ted Kaufman, and Maine Republicans Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

All the senators represent states with significant offshore potential.

The bill's RES provisions depend on Congress first creating such a standard. The House has passed legislation to create an RES, but a similar bill in the Senate has not moved since the committee approved it last June.

The Powered Act would also authorise the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an offshore research and development grant program, with funds available for states, academics and companies working on:

  • wind power integration, transmission and storage plans;
  • wildlife impact studies;
  • research into new technologies, and
  • state offshore policies, including development incentives.
  • The bill would also require the DOE to develop a "roadmap" for offshore wind power, including:
  • recommended federal and state policies;
  • evaluations of domestic manufacturing capability and training requirements, and
  • an assessment of the technological advances needed to decrease the cost of offshore wind.

Last month, Carper introduced S. 3062, which would extend production and investment tax credits for offshore wind until 2020. Brown, Collins and Snowe co-sponsored that bill along with North Carolina Democrat Kay Hagan.

Brown was also one of four Democratic senators to urge treasury secretary Timothy Geithner to halt stimulus spending on wind farms until it could be ensured that only projects using domestic materials would be funded.

 

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