Plan to kick-start US offshore wind market

US: The US interior department is examining how to speed up the permitting of offshore wind farms, secretary Ken Salazar has said.

Offshore: US plans to kick-start market

At a meeting with governors and other representatives of the 11 coastal Atlantic states on Friday, Salazar said the department would investigate how to streamline permitting while preventing speculators from locking up the best development sites.

He said the department would in the next month also draw up proposals for encouraging the transmission development necessary for offshore farms.

The US does not have a single offshore wind farm, and Salazar admitted that the road to permitting was still too long.

Salazar said: "Investors...will not come in and invest if they have to wait seven to nine years to get their permits."

He said Congress had appropriated money for an Atlantic wind energy office, to be created in the next few months.

And he said his staff was formalising the consortium of coastal states to work jointly on regional planning and permitting issues.

Last April the Department of the Interior and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission clarified the two bodies' regulatory responsibilities over energy development in federal waters, removing a long-standing obstacle to offshore wind farms. That month the department also issued rules on site banking, leasing payments and environmental impact statements.