US Offshore Wind for Territories Act Clears the House

A bill that would authorize offshore wind energy development in the Exclusive Economic Zone adjacent to US territories has passed the US House of Representatives.

Source: House of Representatives

The Offshore Wind for Territories Act is proposed by Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo, a representative of Guam, and supported by all five members of Congress representing the US territories. The bill now be sent to the Senate.

Current Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act precludes the US 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 US Virgin Islands.

The bill would amend the federal law to allow wind leasing offshore Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Island, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

In addition to authorizing the development of wind projects off the five US territories, the Offshore Wind for Territories Act would guarantee each US 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 USD 20 million.

A portion of federal royalties would go to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program, providing dedicated federal funding for coral reef conservation, research, and projects in US territories and nationwide.

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 US territories, in consultation with the US 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.