Renewable Energy Offshore: The Department of the Interior Reports


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Could more renewable energy offset rising gas prices? Image by greenfinger.

‘Tis the season to be jolly… and to light up the Christmas tree… and to pay the electrical energy bill: This author just did. In Ontario, we just experienced a three percent energy hike or an average $4.00 added to everyone’s bill plus the cost of their lights.

As reported by Brian Cross, “the Ontario Energy Board says the increase is based on estimates for the coming year that includes more generation from renewable sources along with a higher price for natural gas.”

Renewable Energy

Speaking of renewable energy, this week’s US Department of the Interior (DOI) report focused on an announcement in Baltimore of the proposed auction sale of nearly eighty thousand acres offshore of Maryland for leasing. The resultant wind energy installations are expected to provide enough clean and renewable energy to fuel 300,000 homes.

Here is what else happened this week at Interior:

  • Secretary Jewell announced nearly $7 million in awards to help advance the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan.
  • The South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force met to discuss progress in the greater Everglades region.
  • Initial land purchase orders went out to the Oglala Sioux Nation, a major milestone in implementing the Cobell settlement.
  • Best wishes were offered for a safe and happy holiday season from all at the Department of the Interior.

Renewable Offshore Wind Energy for Maryland

The goal of President’s Obama’s Climate Action Plan is to have 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy generated by the year 2020.

The initiative by Maryland, a state committed to getting twenty percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2022, builds on the earlier successful sales of offshore area off New England and Virginia.

The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act, signed in 2013 was intended to create an economic incentive, through subsidies, for the development of up to 500 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity, at least ten nautical miles off of Maryland’s coast.

A target project size of 200 MW would require the installation of an estimated 40 turbines off the coast of Ocean City.

The move was criticized as a drain on household budgets by the state’s lone Republican congressman. And it should be noted that in this author’s home province of Ontario, energy rates have risen, and will continue to do so in the name of green energy – as pointed out by Keith Leslie of the Canadian Press. Said Leslie, Ontario electricity consumers can expect their bills to jump almost 50 per cent in the next three years under the new long-term energy plan.

As the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science tells us, potential wind energy areas were identified as those most suitable for commercial wind energy activities while presenting the fewest environmental and human user conflicts.

But, a lessee will be required to submit a construction and operation plan and an environmental impact statement before wind energy generation at the site. And some scientists believe there is a physical limit for wind turbines. Environmental concerns that need to be addressed by every lessee include:

  • Impact of increased noise on marine life. e.g. from pile-driving
  • Impact on birds and bats e.g. collisions and changed migratory routes
  • Impact on seabed and sediments e.g. from undersea cables that transmit the energy

Clean Energy Prospects

The DOI sent out best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season from all at the Department. It did not, however, promise cheap energy – just clean energy. But such developments do help to build an energy business with an American supply base. The cost-benefits for the US and elsewhere, however, are still being debated.

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