U.S. completes rules for offshore renewable energy development

The Department of Interior issued guidelines April 22 for leasing the Outer Continental Shelf for renewable energy production under joint oversight with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Interior’s Minerals Management Service is to issue two types of leases for development of renewable resources off U.S. coasts. Long-term leases of about 25 years will cover construction and energy production of offshore projects. Limited leases will allow data collection and technology testing over about five years.

President Obama announced the new guidelines in an Earth Day speech at a wind turbine tower manufacturing plant. He has pledged to double renewable energy production in three years.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff signed a memorandum of understanding in April clarifying their agencies’ jurisdictional responsibilities for regulating renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf. The agreement clears the way for developing wind, solar, wave, tidal, and ocean current energy sources. (HNN 4/10/09)

Under the agreement, Interior has exclusive jurisdiction over offshore wind and solar energy. FERC is to oversee offshore projects that generate electricity from wave and tidal energy.

In addition to establishing a process of granting leases, easements, and rights of way for offshore renewable energy development, the new program also establishes methods for sharing revenues generated from Outer Continental Shelf renewables projects with adjacent coastal states. Additionally, the framework will enhance partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies and with tribal governments to assist in maximizing the economic and ecological benefits of OCS renewable development.

The final framework has been submitted to the Federal Register, and is available at www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2009-09462_PI.pdf.

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