Get excited: Obama administration all set for first offshore wind lease sale

posted at 5:21 pm on June 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Oh, good — just what we’ve all been waiting for. President Obama’s Department of Interior has long been busying themselves with the preparations for fast-tracking the country’s first-ever federal offshore-wind lease sales, and at long last, the administration is finally ready to get the party started with a plot off of the Atlantic coast that they hope will help to flesh out what a potential offshore-wind market will look like (a program that so aptly supplements their simultaneous push to fast-track solar zones in Western states, but I digress):

“If there is good interest in this one, then I think you will have this happening on a consistent basis,” she said of the pending offshore wind announcement. …

Jewell said Interior considered many factors, including which areas would yield the highest potential for wind power while avoided bird migration patterns and shipping lanes. …

She said timing for developing a commercial offshore wind industry, however, is up to the private sector.

“I can’t promise that they will be in production in four years, but we don’t want to be a roadblock,” Jewell said. “The market will dictate, but we certainly don’t want to get in the way.”

Again, I have no problems with the federal government allowing private-sector companies to make an economically profitable use of otherwise unproductive lands and seas — that’s just what they can and should be doing — but dishing out quelling reassurances that “we don’t want to be a roadblock” and that the administration will let “the market dictate” is a little rich, on several fronts. First of all, the idea that offshore wind will somehow manage of its own accord without the sustained and ample pork that its onshore brethren has received defies credulity; go ahead and count on plenty more taxpayer money getting spent in the effort. It’s already been happening on all sorts of little projects here and there:

One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday by launching a floating wind machine. It is the first offshore wind installation in United States waters, according to the Energy Department, which helped pay for it. …

The project is one of seven sponsored by the Energy Department under a $168 million program. Three are floating, four are fixed, and this is the first to be put into use, according to Jose Zayas, director of the department’s Wind and Water Power Technologies office.

An advocate might argue that that’s more of an R&D-type of thing, but lawmakers are already making moves to create an offshore-specific federal program to dish out “temporary” incentives and cash to the needy fledgling technology. Back to The Hill:

The onshore wind industry has benefited from 20 years of production tax credits, which repay wind-power producers for generated electricity.

But the production tax credit model is less effective for offshore wind projects because they’re more expensive and need up-front incentives to get started, industry expert say.

Offshore wind advocates have therefore backed investment tax credits, which subsidize projects based on total cost.

Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) have introduced legislation that would offer a 30-percent investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind facilities. Once awarded a credit, the developers would have five years to install the turbines.

Yeah, I’ll bet industry experts say they need up-front incentives. And another point: The Obama administration claims to be totally into their ostensible “all of the above” energy strategy, but they’re working on fast-tracking their favorite renewable projects while conspicuously blocking many of the oil-and-gas leases for which the private sector is clamoring sans any government assistance. Last week, Congress started re-introducing plans to get the administration to reconsider their disgracefully sparse 5-year leasing plan, and if the White House issues a veto threat on the idea (although they may not have to go there, with a Democratic-led Senate), their grandiose ‘we don’t want to be a roadblock’ sentiments and “all of the above” promises will be officially shot to hell.

Members of the House Natural Resources Committee will meet on Thursday to discuss a draft bill that that would open parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to offshore drilling.

The draft bill from committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) would permit drilling off the coasts of South Carolina, Virginia and Southern California while reshuffling the Interior Department’s offshore drilling branch.

President Obama’s five-year offshore leasing plan, which runs through 2017, doesn’t allow drilling in those areas. Hastings’s bill would require Obama to submit a new plan integrating those zones.

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When will the madness stop?

NapaConservative on June 3, 2013 at 5:28 PM

And one good Sandy sends it all to the bottom.

WitchDoctor on June 3, 2013 at 5:29 PM

So were not going to nuke a country we don’t like to let the cloud reduce sunlight and take care of global warming?

The Brits can sleep better now.

IlikedAUH2O on June 3, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Poor sea gulls.

The Rogue Tomato on June 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

This $hit’s hilarious.
Really, I can’t hardly breathe from the laughter.
When are people going to start getting really visibly pi$$ed off by all of this insane nonsense?

Badger40 on June 3, 2013 at 5:32 PM

Wait….so the WH has claimed sovereignty over the wind, and will be selling leases?

Hmmmmm…..what about the wind generators you find on yachts? Won’t those be violating the terms of the lease, and subject the yacht owner to penalties?

Crom will not be pleased.

BobMbx on June 3, 2013 at 5:38 PM

One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday by launching a floating wind machine.

A floating wind turbine? What do these geniuses think might happen the next time a nor’easter or hurricane roars up the coast and generates 50-foot waves? Note to Congress: it’ll capsize faster than Guam.

Blub, blub!!!

Steve Z on June 3, 2013 at 5:40 PM

Poor sea gulls.

The Rogue Tomato on June 3, 2013 at 5:30 PM

This is going to be worse than the Turkey Drop. Oh, the humanity!

forest on June 3, 2013 at 5:42 PM


These things totally f*ck up the wind for us sailors.

Defenestratus on June 3, 2013 at 5:45 PM

OT: Why is the US Attorney hosting this event?

d1carter on June 3, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Something tells me this is going to be just as successful as the solar panels.

scalleywag on June 3, 2013 at 5:48 PM

California wind energy providers have been running at a loss from day one. They cannot exist without major government subsidies. There is absolutely no reason to believe that major multi-billion dollar grants to companies to produce even more expensive electricity from offshore winds can ever be economically viable.

Freddy on June 3, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Salt air and water decompose ferrous and non-ferrous metals alike at an astonishing pace. If a hurricane doesn’t send this crap-fest to the bottom the maintenance costs surely will.

cornbred on June 3, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Blub, blub!!!

Steve Z on June 3, 2013 at 5:40 PM

That’s about what I hear every time I hear someone in this administration speak. :)

scalleywag on June 3, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Do I have to pay restitution if I accidentally breathe some of this leased wind? Is that like stealing?

jdpaz on June 3, 2013 at 5:51 PM

These things totally f*ck up the wind for us sailors.

Defenestratus on June 3, 2013 at 5:45 PM

Just lease some of that wind for your own personal use. Problem solved!!

jdpaz on June 3, 2013 at 5:52 PM


Bmore on June 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

We have an abundance of wealth to destroy damnit!

tom daschle concerned on June 3, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Which Democrat donor is this? I can’t keep track….

I guess the answer is blowin’ in the wind…

ProfShadow on June 3, 2013 at 5:57 PM


Schadenfreude on June 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM

3,000 megawatts

as everyone knows, lies form the basis of much of the leftist world view, and with the moronic leftist press most people never know they are being lied to….well, until the brownouts start.

the left would love to ramp up the climate change now. They are very
excited about the Bonn ccnference, OFA already has its list of congressional Climate Deniers targeted (all Rs btw)

Governments begin their next round of climate change talks under the United Nations in Bonn on June 3. This meeting resumes the second session of the “Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action” (ADP), which is tasked both to complete a universal climate agreement by 2015 that will come into force from 2020, and to find ways to increase the current inadequate level of global ambition to address human-generated climate change before the end of the decade.

r keller on June 3, 2013 at 6:05 PM

I wonder how far inland those things will blow during the next major hurricane that happens, and we know there gonna get worser, Algore said so……………..;)

angrymike on June 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Change we can believe in:

avagreen on June 3, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Not that the intellectual elites of Washington will pay much attention, but has anyone thought about the fact that ELECTRONICS and SALT AIR don’t mix well together.

GarandFan on June 3, 2013 at 6:21 PM


These things totally f*ck up the wind for us sailors.

Defenestratus on June 3, 2013 at 5:45 PM

A diesel engine will fix that wind problem. Well that and a propeller.

Oldnuke on June 3, 2013 at 6:39 PM

Don’t the green freaks realize one of those windmills could fall over and kill a fish?

fogw on June 3, 2013 at 6:40 PM

What Would Teddy Do?

unclesmrgol on June 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM

The Bible says that he who troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind.

He that taxeth the wind shall trouble his own house!

Steve Z on June 3, 2013 at 7:01 PM

MegaChopOmatic for the wildlife so … kiss the sea birds good-by.

Back in college I worked on a project called a Salt-Gradient Solar Pond. It was thought to be a ‘scalable’ method to use high density (near saturation) salt water to collect and store solar (thermal) energy under a layer of ‘pure water’ which is a pretty good insulator if not disturbed.
We were forever redesigning stuff that had to ‘touch’ the saline solution. Sensors for temperatures, densitometers, pumps, valves, etc. The salt water ate EVER metallic gadget it came in contact with. Aluminum (all alloys) would turn into Swiss-cheese and eventually disintegrate. Brass did last a little longer but it is HEAVY and EXPENSIVE. Stainless steel? Forgetaboutit!

But THIS sounds (unless you live downwind) neat & GREEN … So where do the taxpayers send our money (and just kiss it good-by)?

Missilengr on June 3, 2013 at 7:18 PM

Things to know:

1) When you say ‘marine’ you have to add three zeros to your cost estimates.
2) The marine environment is absolutely brutal to materials.

The maintenance costs for these things are bad enough on land. Offshore? Well, see item #1.

ss396 on June 3, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Electricity from offshore wind power is over double that for land based. Yet, on average we are talking about needing almost 95 square miles to generate 1,000 megawatts (delivered is around 370 MW) because they have to be separated, with a power density of 1.5.

Compare that to a natural gas plant: .3 square miles, generate 3,750 MW (delivered 3200 MW) power density of 3600.

Coal: .6 square miles, 1,600 MW (delivered 1,300), density of 850.

Did I mention that wind power costs are typically 2-4 times the cost of nuclear, natural gas, and coal, especially when you factor in the direct subsidies paid out by government?

William Teach on June 3, 2013 at 8:39 PM

Auction the areas off Martha’s Vinyard first!

ExpressoBold on June 3, 2013 at 9:04 PM

What Would Teddy Do?

unclesmrgol on June 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM

…can he see them?

KOOLAID2 on June 3, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Teddy would wake from the dead long enough to say “not off Martha’s Vineyard, it would ruin the view”. Mary Jo was unavailable for comment.

TulsAmerican on June 4, 2013 at 12:13 AM

The trolls would rather talk about the success of this President.

Small and medium-size businessowners do not have any immediate plans to staff up, a new report says. Just one-quarter of the business owners surveyed said they have hired new employees or will hire new employees before the end of the year.

Oh wait….

just ferget it.

CW on June 2, 2013 at 5:33 PM

This site has gone to shet over the past few years… What a shame.

whiskeytango on June 4, 2013 at 2:00 AM