Offshore Wind Rules Update Eases Process

We’ve reported that policy changes at both the federal and state level will be needed in order streamline clean  energy development and bolster energy conservation. It now appears that the feds are beginning to take steps to help streamline the processes involved in offshore wind development. According to a recent statement, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has finalized a proposed rule that will “eliminate a redundant step in the noncompetitive leasing process for commercial renewable energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf where developers are trying to launch offshore wind projects.”

The new rule is said to make for a more  streamlined process that could cut up to a year off the leasing process for some commercial wind energy projects in the Atlantic. According to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, “It would increase regulatory efficiency without affecting our ability to rigorously review, analyze and monitor projects to assure they are carried out in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.”

Cape Wind, computer-simulated view

image via Cape Wind

BOEMRE reportedly published the proposed rule on February 16, 2011. BOEMRE says that it has conducted a careful analysis of the public comments it received and it  determined it could move forward to finalize the rule. The final rule is supposed to be effective as of June 15, 2011.

The existing regulations stipulate that, if BOEMRE starts the commercial wind leasing process and only one party expresses  interest in acquiring a lease in that area, the bureau must still issue a second Federal Register notice request to make certain there really isn’t any competitive interest in that area. This process can apparently take several months, and BOEMRE determined that it is unnecessary and redundant. The new proposed rule is said to eliminate the requirement for the second request  and could potentially strip the leasing process of up to six to 12 months in wait time.

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