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Kaine Announces MOU Promoting Wind Energy Development

Gov. Timothy Kaine announced Wednesday, Nov. 11, that Virginia has joined a partnership with Maryland and Delaware to promote the development of offshore wind farms in the Mid-Atlantic region. Old Dominion University energy researchers said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the states' governors bolsters their recent investigations of wind energy production potential off the Virginia shore.

"With our extensive coastline and highly educated workforce, Virginia is particularly well suited to explore offshore wind energy opportunities," said Kaine. "One of the best things we can do to lift ourselves out of a challenging economy today is to invest in a greener, cleaner tomorrow."

The Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium (VCERC), which is headquartered at ODU and led by Patrick Hatcher, ODU's Batten Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences, has been involved in wind energy research for three years. "I wholeheartedly support this initiative," said Hatcher. "We have taken a multifaceted approach to alternative energy and wind energy is a topic high on our research agenda."

Larry Atkinson, ODU's Slover Professor of Oceanography and an expert on the climatology of coastal waters, has been involved in the VCERC wind energy research. He said some coastal wind energy issues must be settled state-by-state, but that many require regional cooperation and collaboration with federal agencies. "For that reason, this MOU moves us in the right direction," he explained.

Through the MOU, the three states will focus on leveraging resources and information to bring offshore wind energy to the region. Immediate tasks under the MOU are to identify common transmission strategies for offshore wind energy deployment in the region, discuss ways to encourage sustainable market demand for this renewable resource and work collaboratively in pursuing federal energy policies that help advance offshore wind farms.

Earlier this year, Kaine submitted a letter to Elizabeth Birnbaum, director of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service, formally requesting the formation of a federal-state-local task force to guide and facilitate the process of leasing federal waters off the Virginia coast for wind turbine development. Hatcher and Atkinson said VCERC has been involved in planning the task force and will be able to advise it.

"Today marks another important step towards a clean energy future for our families and workers. The opportunity for renewable energy generation through offshore wind is outstanding," remarked Maryland's Gov. Martin O'Malley. "Our states share many common resources and opportunities. This collaboration will allow us to take full advantage of these opportunities and pool our collective abilities."

"With the only power-purchase agreement in place for offshore wind in the United States, Delaware is poised to be the first state in the nation to develop an offshore wind farm, bringing clean power to the region and creating hundreds of jobs," said that state's Gov. Jack Markell. "This agreement will help us leverage the resources and energy of our three state governments to help our region become the true powerhouse for this important source of renewable, reliable alternative energy."

The MOU also calls for examination of ways to coordinate regional supply chain facilities to secure supply, deployment, and operations and maintenance functions to support offshore wind energy facilities. Strategies to utilize academic institutions to create standards and opportunities for training and workforce development will also be developed.

This article was posted on: November 11, 2009

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