To date, no offshore wind farms have operated in the United States. However, several projects under consideration or development could change that.

In February, the federal government completed an environmental review of designated “wind energy areas” off the mid-Atlantic coast, and found that lease sales for wind energy would not create environmental problems. This finding may facilitate the sale of wind energy leases off the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware as early as this year. [New York Times]

The Cape Wind Project, a wind farm off Massachusetts’ Cape Cod, could be the first operational offshore wind energy project in the U.S. The project has all the necessary permits, and construction is expected to begin in 2013.

According to the Huffington Post “the Obama administration and five states announced an agreement [in March] to speed up consideration of plans for offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition. Under the deal, state and federal agencies will craft a blueprint for speeding regulatory review of proposed wind farms without sacrificing environmental and safety standards.”

The New York Times reports that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is supporting an application filed by a coalition led by the New York Power Authority to lease the ocean floor off of Queens for a wind farm. Although the process is in its early stages, the proposed farm has a potential capacity of 350 to 700 megawatts.

However, not all offshore wind efforts are moving forward. The Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012, which would have mandated that a specified amount of energy be generated from offshore wind, was rejected by Maryland’s General Assembly on April 9th.  This marks the second year in a row offshore wind legislation has been rejected in Maryland.

Common sources of opposition for offshore wind include high costs, pass-through of those costs to ratepayers, environmental concerns, and NIMBYism.

What is the future of offshore wind? What’s holding it back? What should be the roles of state and federal governments in facilitating the development of offshore wind?

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