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Obama administration fast tracks wind farm development

No longer is the Obama administration just blowing in the wind! Interior Chief Ken Salazar recently announced the federal government’s plan to speed up the development of wind farms along the East Coast. The plan calls for identifying the best locations for potential wind farms outside of shipping lanes and fast tracking the permit process over the next 18 months.

The federal government has long targeted the Atlantic Coast as a hot spot for development of America’s clean energy projects, and hopes to learn from the mistakes of the Cape Wind project. Following an eight year federal review and intense opposition, developers finally signed a lease last month launching the 130-turbine Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

Salazar says the plan is to implement a “smart permitting process” that could result in leases issued within two years, instead of seven years or more. Federal officials will begin working with governors in 11 Atlantic Coast states to identify promising areas for wind development, and if no serious problems arise, leases could be issued late next year or in early 2012. States would receive 27 percent of total revenues collected by the federal government for projects in federal waters, at least three miles offshore. The push to promote offshore wind power may provide a boost to a proposed $5 billion offshore transmission project backed by Google Inc. and its partners.

The Obama administration aims to pursue offshore wind power along the East Coast in the same way officials are pushing solar power in the Southwest. The new initiative is expected to create jobs, boost the economy and help make the United States a leader in the global clean energy marketplace – these are all things we can proudly get behind, and we’re eager to see these plans set in motion.