Will the Gulf oil spill help or hurt US offshore wind?

The Deepwater Horizon disaster may deep six U.S. offshore wind projects, according to Jim Lanard, managing director of offshore wind energy developer Deepwater Wind who recently spoke at the American Wind Energy Association’s annual wind power conference.

“My experience has been that people immediately jump to the conclusion that when they talk to developers like me is that this is somewhat beneficial to our industry [because it] is going to create a need and an emergency for renewable energy,” Lanard said. “In fact, the opposite is going to happen in the near-term and even the midterm.”

Andrew Engblom, a colleague of mine who covered the AWEA event in Dallas, reported that Lanard believes offshore wind projects may suffer because both the offshore wind industry and the oil and natural gas industries are regulated by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, which has received much of the blame for allowing the accident to happen.

“There is a potential for unintended consequences just because we are regulated by the same agencies as oil and gas,” Lanard said.

Indeed, the Obama administration has already pledged to restructure the MMS and some lawmakers may call for more heads to roll at the federal agency. However, Obama and several politicians were elected–and relected–on the promises of green jobs, clean energy and efforts to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign fuels.

A pessimistic view on offshore wind projects coming from a project developer like Lanard is really saying something. But that is just one man’s opinion. This week, Pat Fleischauer, vice president with consulting firm TRC Solutions will share her thoughts on the matter for an SNL Energy podcast.

What do you think: Will the MMS mess cause more delays and/or cancellations of offshore wind?

My two cents: It’s too soon to tell. These projects are not sprint races; they get done on marathon time. Today, for example, I wrote a story about the New York Power Authority is beginning its review process of five proposals for an offshore wind project in Lake Erie. If all goes according to plan, the Great Lakes project won’t begin operations for at least four years. A lot can happen in four years and NYPA isn’t waiting now to see what happens with MMS.

Previous articlePolicy & Regulation: NHA Conference: Planning for Reform
Next articleSener Awarded DOE Contract for CSP Thermal Storage System
Jennifer Zajac has covered the U.S. electric power sector for more than eight years and was founder/editor of SNL Energy's Renewable Energy Week, a newsletter devoted to the utility renewable energy market in North America. Currently, she covers EPA policies that impact the power industry and is working on a masters' degree in Global Energy Management at the University of Colorado-Denver.

No posts to display