U.S. Interior Secretary: East Coast Wind Turbines Can Replace 3,000 Coal Plants
East Coast wind turbines, stationed offshore, can generate the same amount of electricity as 3,000 coal-fired power plants, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told an open forum in Atlantic City, NJ, hosted by his department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS).
“There is tremendous potential with wind off the Atlantic,” he said.
Today’s event in Atlantic City was the first of four planned regional public meetings where the Interior Secretary will discuss the future of offshore energy development on the nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Being that the 26-year-old moratorium on offshore drilling has now expired, the government is taking ideas from public and private interests on best approaches to developing a comprehensive offshore energy plan that includes the development of traditional and renewable sources of energy on the OCS.
Some environmental groups are opposed to offshore oil drilling and believe that today’s meeting presents a choice. They want the government to invest heavily in wind, solar and other alternative energy instead of relying on fossil fuels.
“This hearing is a moment of truth for the American people,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are either going to have a green economy based on renewable energy, or we will continue with the fossil foolishness of the past.”
The DOI also released a report concluding that shallow water wind energy alone could provide at least 20% of the electricity needs of almost all coastal states.
“America’s own oil and natural gas supplies are limited,” Salazar said. “We sit on 3 percent of the world’s oil reserves. We consume 25% of its oil. Our dependence on foreign oil is a national security problem, an environmental security problem, and an economic security problem.”
“More than three-fourths of the nation’s electricity demand comes from coastal states and the wind potential off the coasts of the lower 48 states actually exceeds our entire U.S. electricity demand,” Salazar said.
There already are plans for a wind farm off the coast of the Jersey Shore which would provide power to more than 100,000 homes in the state.
The proposed 348-megawatt offshore wind project would utilize 116 turbines, and with the wind park located more than 15 miles from shore, it will be only faintly visible from land.
But Salazar didn’t render judgment on if the government will allow for oil and gas drilling off the coast.
“We know there are some people who want us to close the door on that,” he said. “We need to look at all forms of energy as we move forward into a new energy frontier.”