At the end of last week, Governor O’Malley of my state Maryland and the Delaware Governor Markell called for the Federal government to join them in offering to purchase offshore wind energy. The rationale is pretty clear, a greater show of interest in purchasing the wind power from an entity as large as the feds means guaranteed demand for the wind energy developers, which means $$$. This quote below from the article says it best
“By combining our market power with that of the federal government, we can drive demand for over one GW of offshore wind energy in the mid-Atlantic,” the governors wrote. “This would create the economies of scale necessary to significantly reduce the cost of offshore wind development, attract manufacturers of offshore wind equipment and installation vessels, and develop high paying green jobs for our workers.”
Delaware officials already have authorized utilities to enter into long-term contracts for 230 megawatts of electricity from a planned wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth and Maryland has offered to buy 55 megawatts from the proposed 450 million watt project.
But the governors contend that a commitment to purchase one gigawatt of wind energy could be the catalyst for creation of a manufacturing base and supply chain that could bring up to 20,000 jobs to the region.
“If all we have is a wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth with parts that are made overseas, I think it will be a missed opportunity,” Markell told The Associated Press.
I question I have is, are the any policies other states, or the federal government itself should be pushing in improve the economic climate for offshore wind off the East Coast? The article mentions a few actions
“In addition to soliciting federal participation in a power purchase agreement, O’Malley and Markell also called for better coordination among federal agencies on offshore wind issues and asked Obama to support legislative efforts to remove barriers to wind energy development. Among the goals they cited are increasing loan guarantees, extending production tax credits, streamlining the permitting process and allowing the General Services Administration to enter into power purchase agreements beyond 10 years.”
I like the loan guarantees and tax credits, and I wrote a column this past January about the need to streamline the permitting process for wind.
But what about activists in other states along the coast getting their states to make commitments to purchase wind power from an offshore farm? What about the impact of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) to increase demand for wind energy, and help make this offshore project more viable? Right now, there’s a debate amongst Democrats in the US Senate on whether a renewable energy standard should be in the energy bill, now that climate legislation is out. The debate can’t be able the abstract concept of an RES, it has to be able potential clean energy projects such as this one that need a shot in the arm from Congress. Projects that are in the states of swing Senators are even better.
There’s a lot more we should be doing, and the Federal Government has already failed to place a price on carbon to make projects such as offshore wind more viable, but it’s good to see effort on the part of MD and DE to try and create demand for these wind products.