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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

DOI and Thirteen East Coast States Create Offshore Wind Energy Consortium

The Department of the Interior has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") with Thirteen Atlantic Coast States to promote the development of offshore wind resources. The full title of the MOU is:

Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States Department of the Interior and The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida To Create An Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to Coordinate Issues of Regional Applicability for the Purpose of Promoting the Efficient, Expeditious, Orderly and Responsible Development of the Wind Resources of the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf

Notably, the MOU highlights findings by the Department of Energy ("DOE") that state that in order to achieve a goal of obtaining 20% of national energy from wind resources, US developers will need to build offshore wind farms generating at least 54 gigawatts of offshore wind energy. The MOU also recognizes the enormous impact that an offshore wind industry could have on the economies of the participating Atlantic States through the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The participating States and the DOI therefore agree pursuant to the MOU to cooperate with one another to clarify and simplify the regulatory process including smoothing the path to compliance for developers who must comply with multiple state regulatory processes as well as the federal regulations. The parties also agreed to share scientific data and cooperate in the design, method, and performance of scientific studies and data acquisition.

Importantly, the MOU also provides that the parties will address the difficult issue of financing offshore wind farms. This is the first time that any collaboration of state and federal government bodies have joined together to consider and address the question of how to finance offshore wind farms-- which are among the most capital intensive energy projects many of the state participants have ever encountered.

Notably, this MOU is strictly between government entities. No private developers, utilities, or investment entities are parties to the agreement.

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