The Governors of nine states on the US east coast have issued a letter urging the Biden administration to build on growing momentum and prioritise offshore wind development in the US
The letter was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York; Governor Charlie Baker, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Governor Ned Lamont, Connecticut; Governor Janet Mills, Maine; Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland; Governor Christopher Sununu, New Hampshire; Governor Philip Murphy, New Jersey; Governor Daniel McKee, Rhode Island; and Governor Ralph Northam, Virginia. In the letter, they pledged to work collaboratively to meet state’s clean energy targets, and offered strategies to build on key areas outlined by the administration to further advance offshore wind in the US.
In the letter, the Governors said they are greatly encouraged by the administration’s recently announced commitment to developing wind energy off the coast of the US. They said it would create unprecedented opportunity for the US to capture significant economic development activity and emphasised the importance of federal-state partnerships in realising what they described as an opportunity the importance of which “cannot be overstated.”
“Realisation of the offshore wind opportunity depends on several variables,” they said, “including the pace and uniformity of the federal permitting process, the degree of regional co-ordination among states, the amount of available space in federal lease areas, the potential impacts on marine resources, and the availability of supporting infrastructure to deliver high-voltage power from project areas to the mainland.
“As such, we aim to collaborate across our states by consulting with each other on permitting challenges, natural resource consideration, identifying opportunities to co-ordinate schedules, and aligning construction timelines to meet states’ respective clean energy targets. Doing so, we hope to utilise our joint resources to maximise the economic potential of the offshore wind industry for our country,” they said.
The Governors offered several strategies to support “this unprecedented opportunity to build back better.” These include setting long-term targets for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) lease area scoping and establishing a timeline for identifying, characterising, and auctioning new federal lease areas to provide a ‘runway’ for states to achieve their development targets on schedule.
They also asked the administration to supplement interstate co-ordination during project design and permitting and requested additional federal consultation with states and increased regional leadership on addressing environmental, fishing, and maritime concerns during and after construction of facilities. “We seek to provide more certainty to developers across projects in addressing legitimate interests in marine resources and maritime industries that will share space with this new industry,” they said.
The Governors also asked the administration to consider setting long-term targets for offshore wind ports that can support the scale and timeline of state procurement targets and address the need for adequate transmission capacity. “No offshore wind project can provide power to the grid without the supporting infrastructure to transmit high-voltage electricity to the mainland,” they wrote. “As multiple states share common wind energy areas, and in some cases the same regional power system, transmission planning and development are best organised through regional, multi-state co-ordination.
“To meet offshore wind procurement targets while minimising cost, we urge the administration to instruct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to direct regional system operators to initiate policies that encourage collaboration across transmission systems and stimulate investment in the planning and development of offshore transmission as soon as possible.
As touched upon in the administration’s 31 March American Jobs Plan announcement, they asked the administration to consider modifications to federal regulatory processes that would improve access to critical USDOT corridor ‘rights-of-way’ to support the efficient and cost-effective onshore routing of offshore wind cable infrastructure. They also asked BOEM to clearly articulate the process of permitting offshore transmission infrastructure.
Last but not least, the Governors highlighted the need for support for other marine industries and users. “To advance offshore wind energy development in an environmentally responsible way that ensures renewable energy coexists with natural resources, ocean users, and communities, including fishermen and the tribes, we urge the federal government to provide leadership on regional natural resource impact assessment and mitigation frameworks for demonstrated negative impacts on marine resources, fisheries, and local cultures,” they concluded.
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