If we don’t implement the National Ocean Policy, it is likely to cause delays in the development of offshore renewable energy, limiting the ability to hire new workers.
Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm is located in a renewable energy area identified through the OSAMP process. That planning – a result of a rigorous data collection and stakeholder engagement effort by Rhode Island’s coastal zone management agency – has greatly advanced the siting and approval process for what we believe will be a path breaking offshore project.
In fact, the Block Island Wind Farm’s permit applications and other approvals are pending; we have an agreement with Siemens for their latest offshore wind turbine technology; and we are planning to start construction next year. This tremendous progress in building America’s first deep water offshore wind farm was made possible because of the data that was collected and the stakeholders that were engaged during the OSAMP process.
So for those of us with businesses and livelihoods that rely on the ocean, the benefits of the National Ocean Policy are clear.
The demand for ocean resources is growing by the day. Renewable energy, commercial and recreational fisheries and maritime industries, among others, are all interested in the same waters. Many times these areas intersect, and conflict between uses could result without sensible planning.
Fortunately, the National Ocean Policy is about minimizing those issues by coordinating existing activities and services, and in turn, reducing redundancy. Many elements of the policy, such as mapping and data collection – programs already in place and used on a daily basis by many businesses – provide the opportunity to reduce conflicts and improve regulatory timelines, meaning more predictability. Comprehensive ocean planning makes smart business sense.
Recently, the benefits of regional stakeholder engagement on ocean development could be seen in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In February, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management determined Wind Energy Areas off the states’ coast.
After extensive input, the locations excluded sections deemed important fishing areas for the region. This accommodation was important because our planned 900-megawatt Deepwater Wind Energy Center will be located in these waters, supplying power to New England and Long Island. Cooperation with important stakeholders like the fishing industry only helps our chances of success. Efforts like this show that industries can co-exist in the same waters, but only if the sufficient coordination is in place. The National Ocean Policy provides that service.
One of the National Ocean Policy Draft Implementation Plan’s objectives is to use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting our ocean, coasts and the Great Lakes. But if the policy’s implementation is blocked, and these services are negatively affected, how are companies supposed to make educated investments without the latest data and maps on ocean resources?
Another key tenet of the National Ocean Policy is providing weather and ocean data for coastal and offshore renewable energy development. But if implementation is prohibited, would that affect access to this key information?
The United States has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to offshore renewable energy. However, with several plans for wind farms underway, we are on the brink of providing jobs to thousands of Americans and a secure energy source to even more.
The National Ocean Policy is about securing current and future jobs for everyone who depends on the ocean for their livelihood.
Moore serves as chief executive officer for Deepwater Wind, a leading developer of offshore wind projects in the United States, including the Block Island Wind Farm off the Rhode Island coast.