For the first time, the federal government has issued offshore wind leases to explore the potential of the energy source.
The New York Times reports the five leases will be for areas 6 to 18 miles off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts:
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who has made offshore wind energy a priority, acknowledged that the United States was playing catch-up to European countries, like Denmark or the Netherlands, which have long focused on alternative energy.
A variety of local and political hurdles have so far prevented wind farms from being built off American coasts.
“Other nations have been using offshore wind energy for more than a decade,” Mr. Salazar said in a statement. “The technology is proven, effective and available and can create new jobs for Americans while reducing our expensive and dangerous dependence on foreign oil.”
The leases were granted to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy; Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey; Deepwater Wind, and Bluewater Wind Delaware.
Some estimates say that the wind could provide 20 percent of the country’s energy needs by 2030, and offshore wind power generation could play a significant role in that number.