Virginia, Maryland and Delaware join forces for wind energy

The three states signed a memorandum of understanding creating a formal partnership that will build on the region’s significant offshore wind resources to generate clean, renewable energy and a sustainable market that will bring new economic opportunities.

Through the MOU, the Mid-Atlantic States will focus on leveraging resources and information to bring offshore wind energy to the region, which in turn, will create green jobs for our workers and clean energy alternatives for our families and businesses. Immediate tasks under the MOU are to identify common transmission strategies for offshore wind energy deployment in the region, discuss ways to encourage sustainable market demand for this renewable resource and work collaboratively in pursuing federal energy policies which help advance offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic area.

Virginia is already positioned to be a leader in the development of offshore wind energy. In September, Governor Kaine submitted a letter to Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service, formally requesting the formation of a federal-state-local task force to guide and facilitate the process of leasing federal waters off the Virginia coast for wind power development. The formation of the task force will be the first step in what will ultimately be the development of a clean, renewable energy source for Virginians and the introduction of a new sector to the Hampton Roads and Virginia economy.

Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley says, “Our states share many common resources and opportunities. This collaboration will allow us to take full advantage of these opportunities and pool our collective abilities for not only a Smart, Green and Growing Maryland, but a cleaner and more sustainable region as well.”

“With the only power purchase agreement in place for offshore wind in the United States, Delaware is poised to be the first state in the nation to develop an offshore wind farm, bringing clean power to the region and creating hundreds of jobs,” said Governor Jack Markell of Delaware. “This agreement will help us leverage the resources and energy of our three state governments to help our region become the true powerhouse for this important source of renewable, reliable alternative energy.”

The MOU also calls for examination of ways to coordinate regional supply chain facilities to secure supply, deployment, and operations and maintenance functions to support offshore wind energy facilities. Collaboration on strategies to utilize academic institutions to create standards and opportunities for training and workforce development will also be developed.

This coordinated effort will provide benefits for each state individually by efficiently targeting areas of common interest to the region. Moreover, this effort will greatly facilitate our regional engagement with federal entities such as the Minerals Management Service, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Department of Defense.

In December 2008, Governor Kaine launched Renew Virginia, a year-long series of legislative and administrative actions promoting renewable energy, creating green jobs, and encouraging preservation of the environment. The development of offshore wind power is an important component of this effort to promote clean energy and provide career-length green jobs in the wind energy and associated sectors. Developing the Commonwealth’s offshore wind resources is consistent with the Virginia Energy Plan and the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change.

The U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative (USOWC) recent study supports the U.S. Department of Energy’s estimation that the United States possesses the potential for 900,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind resources, to include off the coasts of DC’s neighbors Maryland and Virginia.

The USOWC’s report, a study entitled “The U.S. Offshore Wind Energy: A Path Forward”, asserts the feasibility of this electric production should government agencies, universities and businesses coordinate activities to nurture and develop offshore wind power in the United States, as well as with European counterparts. Among its many recommendations, the report also lays out specific areas needing to make offshore wind power a reality.

900,000 megawatts of electricity is an amount nearly equivalent to the nation’s current total installed capacity. These offshore wind resources are especially attractive because they are located in relative proximity to the country’s largest centers of electricity use, including urban cities such as Washington, DC. Explore the progress of DC’s adjacent states that could develop this wind energy at their dedicated sites.

The USOWC, whose steering committee includes Washington, DC’s Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), was formed by eight-member steering committee comprised of representatives from industry, environmental organizations, state programs, and academia. Its mission is to address the technical, environmental, economic and regulatory issues necessary to catalyze the sustainable development of offshore wind energy in the waters of the United States.