U.S. to speed wind farm projects

4 Atlantic states eyed this year

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NORFOLK | The U.S. Department of Energy said Monday it intends to spend $50 million to speed the development of offshore wind farms, with a goal of issuing leases off four Atlantic Coast states by the end of the year.

The Interior Department said sites along the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey have been identified for potential wind farms in an effort to help meet President Obama’s goal of generating 80 percent of the nation’s electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.

Those states will receive expedited environmental reviews to help “fast-track” the projects.

In November, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar vowed to spur offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean by expediting permits and identifying promising areas for wind power to avoid potential conflicts.

Calls to streamline the process came after an eight-year review process that resulted in a lease for the nation’s first wind farm, off the coast of Massachusetts, which was signed in October.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (left) and Energy Secretary Steven Chu look over a map of areas under consideration for wind energy development. Leasing of sites could begin by the end of the year. They made the announcement Monday morning. (Associated Press)

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (left) and Energy Secretary Steven Chu look over ... more >

The Cape Wind project there faced opposition from two Indian tribes, some environmentalists and residents, who argued it threatened marine life as well as maritime traffic and industry. They also said the windmills could mar the ocean view.

Each of the four sites identified Monday are off major tourist destinations, including Atlantic City, N.J., Ocean City, Md. and Virginia Beach, Va.

However, Mr. Salazar said the wind farms would be between 10 to 20 miles offshore — far enough that beachgoing vacationers wouldn’t have their views ruined.

Potential wind project sites in the north Atlantic will be identified in March. Sites in the south Atlantic states will be identified this spring.

States would receive 27 percent of total revenue collected by the federal government for projects in federal waters, at least 3 miles offshore.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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