OFFSHORE WIND BLOWS INTO TOWN?
Advocates of developing offshore wind power have come to Baltimore this week with optimism that they're creeping closer to putting the first turbines off the Atlantic coast, but worried that Washington could pull the plug on the fledgling industry just as it gets started.
Chris Long, the association's manager of offshore policy, said several federal and state government actions have buoyed the industry and sent positive signals to investors. But liftoff still has not occurred, and there are signs some may be cooling on offshore's wind potential.
But offshore wind is running into some resistance as well. The New York Power Authority voted recently to drop its plan to develop a 150-megawatt wind farm in the Great Lakes amid anxiety about the costs and the weak economy. Estimates of how much ratepayers would need to pay to subsidize the project ranged from $60 million to $100 million a year.
Meanwhile, federal subsidies for any type of "clean" energy are drawing more critical scrutiny these days on the heels of the collapse of Solyndra, the California solar manufacturer that received more than $500 million in loan guarantees.
Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican who chairs an energy and commerce subcommittee, once supported boosting clean energy with government loan guarantees, but has since soured on the idea.
"We can't compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines," Stearns said.
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