What it described as ‘redundant’ language in bills that could seriously affect offshore wind projects on the east coast of the US has been slated by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
Responding to language in legislation that it said “needlessly increases uncertainty”, about matters that are already addressed by stakeholder engagement led by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, AWEA said “the offshore wind industry is committed to compatibility with national security and wind projects are rigorously vetted under existing law by the Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Interior and other agencies.
“As currently written, the Defense and Interior appropriations bills do not recognise that the DoD already exercises statutory authority to review and evaluate potential impacts to military operations, testing and training related to offshore wind development through the robust BOEM regulatory process.
“Instead, these bills needlessly duplicate requirements on the DoD that single out offshore wind, creating uncertainty that puts America’s clean energy future at risk.
“With tens of thousands of US jobs, a US$70Bn dollar supply chain opportunity, and the security that comes with additional American clean energy on the line, we urge Congress to reject this needless language.”
As previously highlighted by OWJ, as currently written, the appropriations bills require the DoD to produce a report on offshore wind’s 'potential impacts to national security' and invesitgate mitigation options.
However, these functions are already part of the DoD’s existing statutory authority, and the DoD is engaged in BOEM’s identification of wind energy areas and in the approval of final construction and operation plans for any project built in them.
AWEA said the creation of the report sought in the legislation "would cost staff time, taxpayer money, and create uncertainty for offshore wind development."
Similarly, the DOI Appropriations bill includes language that urges “thorough consideration and accommodation of all affected interests including national defense, security, environmental, maritime safety, fisheries, and particularly locally affected community concerns,” which are already considered in the BOEM regulatory process.
“Wind energy development has a proven track record of compatibility with military readiness and enhances national security through increased domestic clean energy production. Wind developers have successfully mitigated impacts on radar or training when they exist or do not move forward on projects the DOD identifies as being in conflict with military readiness,” AWEA said.
The FY 2020 Defense Appropriations Bill passed out of Committee on 21 May on a vote of 30-22. The offshore wind provision was included in a manager’s amendment, a package of amendments put together by committee leadership that is used to make technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report. The manager’s amendment was adopted by voice vote. The FY2020 Interior Appropriations Bill passed out of committee on 22 May on a vote of 30-21.
At the end of 2018, the US had a total offshore wind pipeline of over 25 GW, spanning 10 states on the east coast and Great Lakes.
A December 2018 BOEM lease sale brought in more than US$400M to the US Treasury.
A recent study from the University of Delaware’s Special Initiative on Offshore Wind described a US$70Bn capex opportunity to businesses in the US offshore wind supply chain. It said this represents tens of thousands of additional US wind jobs.