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Significant U.S. offshore wind power ‘within reach’

More than 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic coast already designated for wind energy development could generate more than 16,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 5 million homes, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

The report was released Thursday with what the federation said was the support of more than 40 co-sponsoring organizations and leaders from business, labor, state and local governments.

The federation said the report, “Catching the Wind: State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power,” also contains a new analysis showing how the strong, consistent winds offshore can provide power to coastal states when the country most needs it, bringing down energy costs and local pollution.

"American offshore wind power is finally within reach," Catherine Bowes, senior manager for climate and energy at the federation, said in a statement. "With areas offshore that can power 5 million homes currently available for leasing, we’ve reached a critical moment for state leaders to seize this golden opportunity and create a clean energy future powered by American workers that can protect our wildlife and communities from the dangers of climate change."

The federation said “Catching the Wind” highlights key progress made to date in the country’s pursuit of offshore wind power, finding a strong correlation between proactive state efforts and tangible steps forward in advancing such power.

• America’s first offshore wind projects are on track for construction in 2015. Two leading projects, Cape Wind in Massachusetts and the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island, are within sight of the finish line.

• Areas already designated for offshore wind development could power over 5 million American homes. As a result of significant federal leadership, a massive local clean power opportunity is available to state energy planners with the capacity to power the equivalent of all households in New Jersey and South Carolina combined. What’s needed now is action by state leaders to drive offshore wind markets and spur critical project contracts forward.

• Offshore wind power could save millions as part of a diverse energy portfolio. Diversifying the East Coast’s energy mix is critical for protecting ratepayers from price spikes in the volatile fossil fuel markets. The report highlights a new 2014 study finding a $350 million-a-year reduction in energy costs from adding 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind energy to New England’s grid.

"With the commonwealth’s support, New Bedford is now poised to play a central role in the nation’s burgeoning offshore wind energy industry," said Mayor Jon Mitchell of New Bedford, Mass.

"Construction is underway on a first-of-its-kind $100 million port facility specially designed to support the staging and assembly of offshore wind turbines. Strong state commitments to offshore wind power are needed to maximize this tremendous opportunity to build a national industry and grow jobs not only for our city but across the region."

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