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Winds of change from Cape Cod

Time for Lansing to get serious about policies that invite offshore turbines to the Great Lakes
Apr 28, 2010
Federal approval of the Cape Wind offshore wind farm off Cape Cod—expected to be announced today by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar—should be a call to action for the Michigan Legislature to get serious about establishing sound policies for offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes.

“The gates of this new job-rich industry are now open in North America,” said James Clift, policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council. “If Michigan wants to put its manufacturing expertise to work it has to act and act fast. The regions and states that embrace wind as a clean energy imperative will be the places where manufacturing and production facilities will locate.”

Michigan legislators are beginning work on legislation to regulate the granting of leases for wind farms on Great Lakes bottomland. They also are considering other proposals to pave the way for a new era of clean wind power.

Michigan has made significant progress in attracting interest in the solar and advanced batteries sector, but it has failed to attract the same level of interest in the wind turbine arena.

The Cape Code news comes on the heels of Ontario’s announcement that it has entered into contracts for 2,500 megawatts of new renewable energy projects. Ontario has stated that it hopes to create more than 50,000 new jobs in its renewable energy sector. The key driver in Ontario’s success is a feed-in tariff program that guarantees a set price of power produced by developers of renewable energy projects.

In contrast, Michigan’s renewable energy program is only expected to result in the construction of about 1,200 megawatts of new renewable energy by 2015. Feed-in tariff programs are virtually nonexistent.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that about 90,000 megawatts of electricity could be extracted from offshore winds in New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Great Lakes. ###
James Clift: 517-256-0553
RELATED TOPICS: wind power
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