OFFSHORE WIND ENERGY AREAS
An array of alternatives to the Cape Wind lease area are available that would have fewer conflicts and/or would be less expensive to the public. Based on stakeholder input, the federal government has identified offshore Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) up and down the east coast that aim to minimize conflicts and be more suitable for development. Nantucket Sound, by contrast, was chosen by Cape Wind with no public input, based solely on technical criteria in order to maximize profit.
The departments of Energy and Interior have launched an offshore wind energy initiative to aggressively deploy offshore wind over the next five years. The goal of this program is to reduce cost and development risks and ease the regulatory constraints that have hindered construction in order to facilitate 86 gigawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2050.
Since 2013, the federal government has leased ten sites on a competitive basis off the east coast for offshore wind development. With improvements in technology and state mandates for offshore wind, these lease sales have attracted both experienced European companies and new U.S. entrants. The latest lease went for a record price of $42 million to Statoil for an area off the coast of New York.
HYDROPOWER, LAND-BASED WIND, AND OFFSHORE WIND
In August, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed legislation to increase electricity generated by offshore wind, hydropower, and other renewable energy sources. The state’s utilities will be required to solicit bids for long-term contracts to purchase power from offshore wind projects, as well as power from hydroelectric dams located largely in Canada. Cape Wind does not qualify for this mandate.
The bill’s goal is to secure contracts for 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy and 1,200 megawatts of hydroelectricity from Canada to ultimately provide about one-third of electricity consumed in Massachusetts.
Land-based wind projects, which may also have siting impacts, are significantly less expensive than Cape Wind at less than 1/3 of the cost on a per kilowatt hour basis.
The White House announced the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative in July of 2016 to ensure every household can choose solar power.
The Administration, in collaboration with state agencies, has a goal of bringing one gigawatt (GW) of solar to low and moderate income families by 2020, a ten-fold increase and an expansion of the initial target President Obama set in his Climate Action Plan to install 100 MW of renewable energy on federally-assisted affordable housing by 2020.