US set to pinpoint offshore development areas

UNITED STATES: High-priority areas for US offshore development are set to be identified by 2010, according to interior secretary Ken Salazar.

US interior secretary Ken Salazar

According to Salazar, most of the task forces established in eight states by the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium of governors will identify appropriate areas for wind by the end of 2010.

Speaking at the American Wind Energy Association offshore conference shortly before signing an offshore lease with Cape Wind Associates, Salazar outlined several steps that he said will cut permitting times for offshore wind farms.

He said information on the resources, conflicting uses and environmental concerns for the high-priority areas will be gathered "up front" to help investors identify sites of interest.

The Department of the Interior will then coordinate area-wide environmental reviews, Salazar said.

Identifying high-priority areas will also help the government explore the potential for an offshore transmission backbone, he added.

Salazar also told delegates that the department is in the final stages of processing several major wind and transmission projects proposed for federal lands in Western states.

"The goal is to get them reviewed by the end of 2010, when they can take advantage of the significant incentives in the Recovery Act," Salazar said.

To be eligible for the federal government’s renewable development grant program, which pays 30% of installed capital costs, projects must begin construction by the end of this year.