United States

United States

US moves to cut offshore permitting times

UNITED STATES: Offshore permitting times are set to be cut by six to 12 months, and priority offshore wind zones will be identified in the next 60 days, federal agencies announced yesterday.

US interior secretary Ken Salazar
US interior secretary Ken Salazar

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) said it plans to amend regulations requiring the agency to issue two requests for developers’ expressions of interest.

Under current rules, BOEMRE issues one request for interest (RFI) when it proposes an area for offshore development. If only one qualified developer responds, BOEMRE must issue a second RFI.

This second step is redundant, BOEMRE said. It estimated that eliminating it will cut six to 12 months off permitting times.

The proposal was announced at a press conference in Baltimore, Maryland, where secretary of the interior Ken Salazar formally launched his department’s revised regime for siting, permitting and leasing of offshore wind projects.

In the next 60 days, the Smart from the Start program will identify the zones that appear best suited for offshore wind development off of six states – a slight delay from his previous prediction that the work would be finished in 2010.

The states are Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

New York may also be included in this first round of identification, and the department said it envisages holding a second round early next year.

By next January, the federal government will issue RFIs and calls for information from those interested in leases for the round one zones, called "wind energy areas".

Maryland’s RFI has already been issued.

The DOI will then gather information on the sites from relevant state and federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Aviation Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The information will then be published in a prospectus for investors.

This process will enable BOEMRE to issue leases to developers in 2011 and 2012, Salazar said.

A factsheet on Smart from the Start is HERE

A factsheet on the BOEMRE rule change is HERE

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