Today, wind turbines spin gracefully across the California desert; they tower over Iowa cornfields, and stand watch off coastal waters. Wind power is emerging as an increasingly viable power source.
The domestic US market for offshore wind has gained momentum recently due to both declining costs and supportive policies. Current laws in several northeastern states require utilities to enter into contracts for wind energy generated off their coastlines. In 2017, over 7 gigawatts were installed across the US, according to CNBC.
This week, the US House committee will begin debate on three new bills projected to further accelerate offshore wind energy leases in federal waters. One of the proposed bills requires the Interior Department to develop a leasing schedule for federal offshore leases. Another creates a federal grant for offshore wind career programs. The third grants the Interior Department control over the federal submerged lands surrounding territories for offshore energy development.
“The Trump administration has thrown its weight behind the nascent offshore wind industry by streamlining permitting processes and working to open up more areas for lease,” according to Reuters. “The administration views offshore wind as an element in its goal for US energy dominance.”
The effects of this support are visible in the increase in projects in development nationwide. In May, three Massachusetts utilities were awarded the largest ever US contract for offshore wind and New Jersey committed to the procurement of 3.5 GW. Last week, US telecom AT&T announced a new 300-MW Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Florida-based electricity supplier NextEra Energy Resources, a project that builds upon a previous 520-MW deal.
“As one of the world’s largest companies, we know how we source our energy is important,” said Scott Mair, President, AT&T Operations. “We’ve been working for a long time to ensure our wind projects deliver for both our business and the environment. We will continue to explore renewable energy solutions to help create a better, more sustainable world.”
What are your thoughts? Will we see more wind power contracts as a result of supportive legislature in the coming months? How will this surge in project development impact other renewable energy markets such as solar?