Obama Administration Readies Great Lakes for Offshore Wind Development, But Few Takers So Far...

The Obama administration announced an agreement with Great Lakes states on off-shore wind projects, a development that is notable in that there currently isn't significant interest by companies to do so.

The administration has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania to streamline reviews of potential off-shore wind projects.

However, when asked how much faster permits could get approved, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley said, "There currently aren't any projects seeking approval..."

It reveals the Obama administrations all-out efforts to publicize any and all things energy in an era of ever-increasing gas prices.

Sutley emphasized, however, "[T]he purpose of this MOU is to make sure that the federal and state agencies are working together so that we can evaluate projects as quickly as possible."

The discussion was largely initiated by the states, she said, as they had been approached by companies potentially interested in developing off-shore wind resources in the Great Lakes.

Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman noted there is one project that has been proposed for the Cleveland-area which could be deployed as early as 2014, so "this is not theoretical," he said.

The purpose of coming together now, officials say, is to avoid a hodge-podge of agencies acting in succession once requests for permits are made, which could slow down the approval process.

As for how fast a project could be approved, Sutley said "[It's] hard to put an exact time since we don't have a project in front of us, but as we mentioned, [there's] tremendous potential to develop off-shore wind resources in the Great Lakes and the states who have signed the MOU are recognizing that potential, as is the federal government. And we wanna be sure that we're ready for that."

The Energy Department says moving forward with wind projects in the Great Lakes "has the potential to produce more than 700 gigawatts of energy." According to National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates "each gigawatt of offshore wind installed could produce enough electricity to power 300,000 homes."