For renewable energy, Delaware looks towards the sea

Last month, Delaware become the first state to organize a task force that will be responsible for issuing commercial leases and overseeing construction of renewable energy projects off the state’s coast. The state will work with federal and local officials to develop an offshore renewable energy strategy that focuses on harnessing power from the wind along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said his state’s proactive measures would ensure that bureaucratic delays do not slow the development of the OCS and the economic, public health and environmental benefits that will result.

“Delaware is positioned to lead the nation in deploying our substantial offshore wind resource and moving towards a clean energy future,” Gov. Markell said in a statement. He has designated Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara to lead the state’s delegation in the task force comprising several federal and tribal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Interior Minerals Management Service, the EPA, NOAA and others.

“[We] stand ready to chart a new course for the country in the effort to transition to clean, renewable energy which will strengthen our economy, enhance our national security and confront the growing challenges from climate change,” Secretary O’Mara said.

The state requires that 20 percent of all its electricity come from renewable sources by 2019, and officials believe the development of offshore wind facilities will generate a vast amount of electrical capacity towards that end. In July of 2008, a 25-year power purchase agreement was struck between Delmarva Power and Bluewater Wind LLC to deliver 200 megawatts of power from an offshore wind facility off Rehoboth Beach. And last spring, the framework for renewable energy generation on the OCS was finalized by the Minerals and Management Service. Due to this progress, Delaware is widely recognized as the likely home of the first offshore wind development in North America.

“By working closely with the Minerals Management Service, our effort here, through the first such Task Force in the country, is a critical step to ensuring that an extremely efficient process is being used to develop Delaware’s unique offshore renewable energy resource in the near future.”

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