The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources has unanimously passed the Offshore Wind for Territories Act that would amend federal law to authorize offshore wind energy development in the Exclusive Economic Zone adjacent to all five U.S. territories.
Proposed by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, a representative of Guam, the bill is supported by all five members of Congress representing the U.S. territories. Current Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act precludes the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from permitting offshore wind farms in federal waters off the coasts of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Island, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition to authorizing the development of wind projects off the five U.S. territories, the Offshore Wind for Territories Act would guarantee each territory a state-equivalent share of any federal royalties collected for offshore wind or similar development in federal waters off their coasts, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office at some $20 million. A portion of federal royalties would go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, providing dedicated federal funding for coral reef conservation, research, and projects in U.S. territories and nationwide.
“I am thrilled that my Offshore Wind for Territories Act unanimously passed the Committee. Offshore wind could replace our reliance on costly foreign petroleum imports with renewable, locally produced electricity while saving residents money on their electricity bills,” said Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo. “Our island could be a true leader in offshore wind, more sustainable and self-sufficient just as my late husband Governor Bordallo envisioned decades ago. Offshore wind industry leaders are very interested in Guam, and my bill clears the way for this exciting economic opportunity to come to our island.”
The bill would also direct the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to complete a study on the technological and economic feasibility of offshore wind energy development in all five U.S. territories, in consultation with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. It would mandate federal consultation with territorial governors prior to any offshore wind lease sales in federal waters adjacent, regarding the suitability of wind farm sites.
Filed Under: News, Offshore wind, Policy