Historic summer for US offshore wind development leads up to Offshore WINDPOWER 2015

Amid a wave of offshore wind power activity, including the start of construction on the first American offshore wind farm, the U.S. wind industry is preparing to gather Sept. 29-30 in Baltimore for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore WINDPOWER 2015 Conference & Exhibition. We look forward to seeing everyone who is growing, investing in and advocating for this new American industry. Here’s some of the latest news about offshore wind:

Steel in the water in Rhode Island

In a milestone for the offshore industry, steel went into the water earlier this summer as construction began on the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore project in the U.S. The 5-turbine Block Island Wind Farm will provide 30 MW of power for Block Island residents, who will see their energy costs decrease as a result of the deployment of this zero-carbon resource. This project may lead the way for many similar projects near coastal communities in the U.S.

Site surveys begin in Maryland

US Wind began surveying work on the seabed in the 125-square-mile area it leased for commercial wind development off of  Ocean City, Md. US Wind is using two survey vessels for this task. The Ocean Discovery is a 285-foot geotechnical survey vessel that will drill up to 240 feet into the seabed to sample and analyze the sand and clay found there. The Shearwater is a 110-foot survey vessel that will scan the seafloor for shipwrecks or other debris. The survey work conducted by these two vessels will inform US Wind’s efforts to design and place steel foundations for the 68 turbines that make up the first phase of the planned 500 MW project.

Oregon moves forward

On the West Coast, there is state support for the floating demonstration offshore wind project planned in Oregon. On Aug. 27, 2015, Gov. Kate Brown announced the formation of the WindFloat Pacific Offshore Wind Advisory Committee to identify viable pathways to procure the project in Oregon, boost the state’s economy, and increase local jobs. The project received a $46.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to demonstrate the potential of offshore wind resources. Principle Power chose a location 18 miles off Coos Bay.

Virginia groups urge the governor to move forward

Local support for offshore wind exists in many coastal communities, including in Virginia. On June 12, 2015, over 50 organizations wrote to Governor Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) to urge him to support policies that would promote offshore wind in Virginia. The letter noted that valuable areas of Virginia’s coastline, including military installations, are vulnerable to sea level rise caused by climate change and that offshore wind presents an opportunity to mitigate climate change and to create 10,000 jobs for Virginia. The letter urges the Governor to use offshore wind as a tool to implement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

BOEM meets with South Carolina stakeholders

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a meeting on Sept. 9, 2015 with the South Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force to discuss an upcoming call for public comment on commercial wind lease areas off South Carolina. During the meeting, BOEM gathered information from the group to inform future decisions in delineating commercial wind lease areas, discussed the offshore renewable energy planning process and presented recently collected survey information. BOEM plans to publish a Federal Register notice calling for public comment on site conditions, resources, and multiple uses in or near areas that may be made available for commercial wind leasing.

AWEA Offshore WINDPOWER 2015 is coming up

Here at AWEA, we are preparing for the Offshore WINDPOWER 2015 Conference & Exhibition, Sept. 29-30 in Baltimore. We have many influential guest speakers confirmed, including keynote speaker Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of BOEM, and Jose Zayas, Director, DOE Wind and Water Power Technologies. Top developers and experts will gather to chart a course for the future of the offshore industry. Guest speakers will analyze new developments, apply the latest lessons learned, and highlight the best areas for potential cost reductions. We hope to see you there. Register here.

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