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Public Statements

Letter to Secretary Salazar, Department of Interior

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Sens. Tom Carper, Chris Coons, Rep. John Carney (all D-Del.) and Governor Jack Markell sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar requesting that the NRG Energy/Bluewater Wind offshore wind project along Delaware's coast be identified as a high priority project for an expedited permitting process. Should the expedited permitting process be granted, it would help accelerate job creation and help facilitate the project's completion.

On August 31, 2011, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum entitled, "Speeding Infrastructure Development through More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review." The memorandum asked the leaders of federal agencies, including the Department of the Interior, to submit high priority projects that could go through an expedited permitting process.

In the letter, the Congressional Delegation and the Governor underscore the importance of the NRG/Bluewater offshore wind project to the viability of the offshore wind industry and to job growth within the American manufacturing sector.

"[L]isting the Bluewater Wind project would be the most significant signal from the administration that the offshore wind industry is a priority and will become a reality in relatively short order," wrote the Congressional Delegation and the Governor. "This, in turn, sends an important signal to international and domestic financiers that the offshore wind market is real and an area worth investing in. It also sends a signal to global manufacturers that they should begin to prepare for expansion into the American market, not by supplying content produced in Europe, but by creating manufacturing jobs here in America."

The leaders express that the contract terms and other conditions of the NRG/Bluewater Wind project distinguishes it from other offshore wind initiatives and better meets the criteria of the Administration's memorandum. Furthermore, they thank the Administration for its ongoing support of offshore wind projects.

"We are extremely grateful for your long standing dedication to building America's clean energy future and the innovative steps that you have taken to streamline project development through the 'Smart from the Start' initiative," wrote the Congressional Delegation and the Governor. "We look forward to working with you to make the vision of a robust offshore wind industry in our nation a reality."

A copy of the letter follows:

September 14, 2011

The Honorable Ken Salazar
Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Salazar:

We read with great interest the August 31, 2011, Presidential Memorandum entitled, "Speeding Infrastructure Development through More Efficient and Effective Permitting and Environmental Review," and we write to ask that you consider identifying the Mid-Atlantic offshore wind project being developed by NRG Energy/Bluewater Wind among one of the three submissions from the Department of the Interior to the Chief Performance Office at the Office of Management and Budget. We believe that the Bluewater Wind project is unique among offshore wind projects in that it has the potential to meet the three criteria established in the memorandum for the following reasons.

First, the project will create a significant number of jobs and equally importantly will launch a new heavy industry in our nation with the potential to create tens of thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs. The more than $1 billion Bluewater Wind project specifically is projected to create an estimated thousand construction jobs, more than a hundred ongoing operations and maintenance jobs, and the potential for several thousand manufacturing jobs throughout the supply chain.

Second, the project has identified multiple opportunities for private project financing. While the project developers are still working to gain approval for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy that would accelerate this project, NRG is also aggressively pursuing multiple funding partners, including European banks specializing in project finance for energy projects and joint ventures with other industry partners. These conversations are anticipated to culminate within three months, which would fulfill the second criterion's requirement that financing is secured within six months of the Federal permitting and review process.

Third, the significant remaining permit decisions and required environmental reviews are within the control and jurisdiction of the Executive Branch. As the project is proposed for Federal waters and the company has secured a finding of no competitive interest for their targeted lease blocks, all significant remaining permits are Federal. The ability to have all appropriate environmental data collected and reviewed within the memo's eighteen month deadline will be difficult, but can be done.

In addition to fulfilling the three criteria of the Presidential Memorandum, there are important strategic reasons for including an offshore wind project within the handful of national high priority projects identified through this process. For example, listing the Bluewater Wind project would be the most significant signal from the administration that the offshore wind industry is a priority and will become a reality in relatively short order. This, in turn, sends an important signal to international and domestic financiers that the offshore wind market is real and an area worth investing in. It also sends a signal to global manufacturers that they should begin to prepare for expansion into the American market, not by supplying content produced in Europe, but by creating manufacturing jobs here in America. And finally, listing the Bluewater Wind project as a high priority gives confidence to potential procurers of offshore wind energy that offshore wind is a reality and a good investment.

We would be remiss to not recognize that there are multiple state-led offshore wind processes or projects under development in various East Coast states. Many of these approaches and projects are promising. However, we believe that the Bluewater Wind project is unique because it has both defined contract terms and a guaranteed off-take agreement for the energy produced. This makes it the only project that could conceivably meet the three criteria of the memorandum. Building this project will demonstrate that the economics of offshore wind can be cost-effective, while at the same time proving the performance of the technology and the potential for it to play a critical role in our domestic energy security.

For all of these reasons, we respectfully request that you include Bluewater Wind among your project submissions. Time is of the essence because there are critical milestones in the next three months that must be achieved to ensure the project moves forward expeditiously.

We are extremely grateful for your long standing dedication to building America's clean energy future and the innovative steps that you have taken to streamline project development through the "Smart from the Start" initiative. We look forward to working with you to make the vision of a robust offshore wind industry in our nation a reality.

Sincerely,

Tom Carper
U.S. Senator

Chris Coons
U.S. Senator

John Carney
U.S. Representative

Jack Markell
Governor of Delaware


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