On January 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of Interior (“DOI”) and Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced that the agencies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) to collaborate in developing commercial-scale offshore renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”).

In 2008, DOE released a report stating that 20 percent of America’s energy supply could be produced from wind generation by 2030, and offshore wind could produce as much as 54,000 MW by 2030.  The MOU will first target projects on the Atlantic coast.

Under the MOU, DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (“BOERME”) and DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (“EERE”) will work together to exchange information, conduct stakeholder meetings, and collaborate on research needed to prioritize wind projects along with marine and hydrokinetic (“MHK”) energy technology projects.  Interestingly, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) is not part of the MOU.   Thus, it is unclear what jurisdictional issues will arise between FERC and the other agencies since the MOU specifically includes siting and permitting of the offshore wind projects.

Within 30 days of signing the MOU, the agencies must create an interagency Action Plan that will, among other things:

  1. Identify potential sites for commercial scale projects;
  2. Develop attainable goals for offshore wind and MHK;
  3. Develop a plan for measuring and predicting wind resources;
  4. Work to streamline Federal and State project authorization processes for permitting and siting; 
  5. Create technical standards for offshore renewable technologies;
  6. Develop environmental protection protocols;
  7. Coordinate studies in support of research leases for OCS wind and MHK activities;
  8. Coordinate with parties to ascertain models for wind, wave, tidal, and ocean currents;
  9. Gather and disseminate data, baseline agency assessments of projects, and additional resources related to the projects.

The MOU is available on DOE’s webpage and here.