Offshore Wind Finally Coming Stateside

There aren’t any turbines in the water yet, but Bluewater Wind is on its way to building what will likely be America’s first offshore wind farm. The wind energy developer signed a contract yesterday to provide 200 megawatts of offshore wind power to Delaware utility Delmarva Power. The wind farm is scheduled to start producing power by 2012 but is still subject to regulatory approval. The farm, sited off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, Del., will have 150 turbines and an energy capacity of over 400 megawatts. All told, the project is estimated to cost $1.6 billion.

Offshore wind has had a tough row to hoe in America. NIMBY activists have thwarted numerous efforts to develop offshore wind farms, most successfully off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., where the Cape Wind project still languishes. This Delaware offshore wind farm also faced a lot of opposition, including flak from Delmarva, which had said the power produced by the turbines would be too expensive. But with a customer now contractually lined up, development of America’s first offshore wind farm should be able to proceed.

Delaware has a renewable portfolio standard that requires utilities to get 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2019. Once up and running, Bluewater Wind will be able to sell any power over 200 megawatts to other utilities also looking to meet Delaware’s energy goals.

Utilities all over are scrambling to secure contracts for clean energy to meet states’ renewable portfolio standards. In California PG&E is looking to finance its own solar plants because there is far more demand for renewable energy than supply. Long-term contracts like the Delmarva’s 25-year wind agreement are attractive to utilities financially because, amid rising and volatile fossil fuel prices, they provide a long-term source of secure energy at a flat rate.

And for your Tuesday viewing pleasure here’s the Daily Show’s coverage of the Cape Wind debacle.

Photo courtesy of Bluewater Wind.

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