It’s been over a year since Michiganís Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council, a bi-partisan commission, created recommendations for a regulatory framework to develop offshore wind. Neither Governor Rick Snyder (R) nor the Michigan state legislature has acted on the recommendations.
The Great Lakes Wind Council recommended that 35 percent of the 38,000 square miles of the state-owned Great Lakes bottomlands, or 13,339 square miles, be considered for offshore wind development. The Council also recommended legislative and rule changes to help move offshore wind development forward.
During the last legislature session, an offshore wind bill was introduced, but it did not advance. The bill would create a framework for developing offshore wind power. Frank Ruswick, deputy director of the Office of the Great Lakes, told Capital News Service that his agency is refining the bill in order to re-introduce it this session. However, the agency has yet to find a legislator to sponsor it.
Although the House and Senate Committees on Energy and Technology have yet to schedule anything about offshore wind, the Senate committee is reviewing progress on Michiganís 2008 law that requires the state to generate 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.
Although the fact that the Senate committee is reviewing progress on the 2008 law does give some cause for optimism, there is a state House bill that would actually ban wind turbines in the Great Lakes. The bill is sponsored by state Representatives Ray Frantz and John Bumstead, both Republicans.
While Snyder and the legislature drag their feet, other countries are developing offshore wind. Bloomberg Business Week reported last week that South Korea will invest $9 billion to develop a 2.5 gigawatt (GW) offshore wind farm by 2019. By 2020, global offshore wind capacity is expected to reach about 78 GW. Currently it is only 3.5 GW. China is expected to have the most installations at 30 GW, or 38 percent of the global total.
Photo: by Flickr user, FrancesHouseHunt.com