Offshore wind farms could create 40,000 American jobs by 2028

Agency wants public input on renewable energy plan

By Mark Collins - Meteorologist
Deepwater Wind

About 3 miles offshore Block Island New England is the nations first offshore wind farm demonstration project. Five turbines generate 125,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which provides leases to oil and wind companies, is looking for public input on future coastal wind farms, possibly located offshore of Florida and the East Coast.

The farms would be located more than 10 nautical miles from shore in water no deeper than 200 feet. The continental shelf off of Jacksonville would be suitable because of its shallow depths, but studies show our area has less consistent wind compared to other locations.

Those with input on the potential projects are encouraged to submit their comments electronically no later than July 5. (To do so, visit regulations.gov and search for BOEM-2018-0018.)

Florida has fallen behind other states -- including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- when it comes to committing to offshore wind energy by 2030.

The commitment to have over 8 gigawatts of operating offshore wind capacity is expected to create almost 40,000 full-time jobs within 10 years, according to a report prepared for several states in the Northeast by a renewable energy consultancy.

The Clean Energy States Alliance says the same study found that 86 gigawatts of power by 2050 would support 160,000 American jobs and produce nearly twice as much energy, the equivalent of five billion barrels of oil, as what would be created by all of the economically recoverable oil and gas in 20 years.

The U.S. East Coast is currently home to the nation's only operating offshore wind farm. The 30 megawatt Block Island facility in Rhode Island was developed by Deepwater Wind is and rated to withstand Category 3 hurricane-force winds.

It was tested during the March 2017 Winter Storm Stella. The turbines functioned as they were designed, automatically cutting out when sustained wind speed reached 55 miles per hour. Similarly, they resumed production after the storm passed.

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