Will power lines sink offshore wind? Money talks

The news out of New York was big. The New York Power Authority is working on rules for siting 120 megawatts of offshore wind turbines in Lakes Erie and Ontario.

But a bigger wind and water story was hatched this week in the Great Plains. President Barack Obama, in an Earth Day speech in Iowa, said his administration is clearing the red tape for siting windmills on the outer continental shelf.

Forbes.com reports that the Department of Interior’s Mineral and Management Service will grant wind developers leases and easements to erect wind farms on the shelf, along with rights of way to wire wind power from water to land. There’s been a moratorium on offshore wind development for about four years in the United States; all the offshore wind is in Europe for now.

Forbes points out that bringing the power ashore could be rife with problems, due to the need to secure permission from landowners.

But if the success of land-based wind farms is any indication, the income people could earn from allowing power lines across their property could provide a strong incentive.

Wind farms around the United States have put money in farmers’ pockets, giving them a supplemental income from allowing wind turbines on their agricultural land. And you can still farm around a turbine base, while earning thousands of dollars in profits from the electricity generated by the turbine.

How this will translate to power lines remains to be seen. You can imagine that wires aren’t as easy to tolerate or marvel at as majestic windmills on the landscape.

Deepwater Wind has already made moves in the offshore field, inking agreements with New Jersey and Rhode Island to develop turbine farms on the water.

The company has developed a “jacket” turbine foundation technology that allows it to build parks up to 20 miles offshore in water up to 150 feet deep. The same technology is the standard for offshore oil and gas platforms in water up to 1,000 feet deep. Deepwater also is eyeing projects from Maryland to Maine.

Besides power lines, however, offshore wind also faces economic cost recovery woes, notes The Wall Street Journal.

Skip to toolbar