Offshore wind development got a huge boost last week when the Department of Energy announced that it would provide $180 million in funding to support four planned offshore wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
To get the ball rolling, $20 million of this funding is being released in 2012, which is great news for offshore wind development at a time when Congress has been floundering on clean energy.
These funds will be used to support innovative strategies that, in the long-term, will help cut the costs of developing offshore wind. The Department of Energy’s support for offshore wind comes at a time of strong public support for offshore wind in coastal states, such as in New Jersey, where it has a 77% approval rating among shore residents.
The Department of Energy has been helping to streamline the permitting process through a process called “Smart from the Start”, which helps promote responsible development of offshore wind in accordance with environmental factors as well as recreational and commercial use of ocean resources.
Oceana has been highly engaged throughout this process as an environmental stakeholder to make sure offshore wind is developed both efficiently and responsibly in order to gain the clean energy benefits of offshore wind in a way that protects marine wildlife.
In stark contrast to the recent announcements from the Department of Energy, Congress has been slow to act on promoting offshore wind development and clean energy in general.
Instead of incentivizing development for this growing industry, Congress remains stuck in endless debate over the wisdom of supporting clean energy technologies like offshore wind, all while providing permanent subsidies to oil and gas companies that are making record profits.
There is currently a bill in both the House and the Senate, the “Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act,” which would extend the much-needed Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind and promote the development of this homegrown energy off U.S. coasts. Passage of this bill will send a clear signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. supports clean energy technologies like offshore wind and it is ready to implement policies that will help jumpstart this job-creating industry.
As seen in Europe, offshore wind energy can create thousands of jobs and stabilize energy prices while reducing harmful emissions. Congress needs to get the message that we want a vibrant offshore wind industry in the U.S.