Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interior and FERC Agree On Offshore Wind Coordination

In a joint statement issued today Secretary of the Interior (DOI), Ken Salazar, left, and Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff, right, announced that the two agencies have confirmed their intent to work together to facilitate the permitting of renewable energy in offshore waters. Turf battles between DOI and FERC have been slowing down consideration of offshore renewable energy projects. This agreement will help sweep aside red tape so that America can capture the great power of wave, tidal, wind and solar power off our coasts.

The agreement was announced in a joint statement (see below) today by the Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Acting FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.
Below is the joint Statement between DOI and FERC signed by Secretary Salazar and Acting Chairmain Wellinghoff:

The United States has significant renewable energy resources in offshore waters, including wind energy, solar energy, and wave and ocean current energy. Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Minerals Management Service, has the authority to grant leases, easements, and rights-of-way on the outer continental shelf for the development of oil and gas resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to provide the Interior Department with parallel permitting authority with regard to the production, transportation, or transmission of energy from additional sources of
energy on the outer continental shelf, including renewable energy sources.

The Interior Department’s responsibility for the permitting and development of renewable energy resources on the outer continental shelf is broad. In particular, the Department of the Interior has permitting and development authority over wind power projects that use offshore resources beyond state waters. Interior’s authority does not diminish existing responsibilities that other agencies have with regard to the outer continental shelf. In that regard, under the Federal Power Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the statutory responsibility to oversee the development of hydropower resources in navigable waters of the United States. “Hydrokinetic” power potentially can be developed offshore through new technologies that seek to convert wave, tidal and ocean current energy to electricity.

FERC will have the primary responsibility to manage the licensing of such projects in offshore waters pursuant to the Federal Power Act, using procedures developed for hydropower licenses, and with the active involvement of relevant federal land and resource agencies, including the
Department of the Interior.

We have requested our staffs to prepare a short Memorandum of Understanding that sets forth these principles, and which describes the process by which permits and licenses related to renewable energy resources in offshore waters will be developed.
News Release

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