New announcement could help area

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced earlier this week that Delaware has been designated one of four high-priority “Wind Energy Areas” in the Mid-Atlantic region. This basically means that Delaware’s offshore wind energy development projects will receive expedited review and approval from the federal government.

This is big, especially locally.

Projects undergoing permit review, like NRG Bluewater Wind currently has, will now be able to get that review done more quickly, and should subsequently be able to start work on the project sooner. And that means jobs — both construction and of the high-tech variety.

“I am a firm believer in the promise of offshore wind power and its enormous potential of reliable energy, thousands of good paying American jobs and independence from fuels that pollute our air and drain our economy,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “Today’s announcement further shows the commitment this administration has for offshore wind development off our country’s coasts.”

In connection with this announcement, the Department of Energy also announced three grants totalling $50.5 million. The grants are designed to encourage investments in research and development, and to reduce specific market barriers to deployment of wind energy projects.

“It is my hope and expectation that this strategy will not only speed-up deployment of the projects already planned for Delaware, but encourage new wind projects off our shores, as well as research into innovative new technologies and development of a clean energy manufacturing base,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “This is an exciting step forward that I believe will attract new investments in Delaware.”

This truly does have potential for our area.

For one thing, if the NRG Bluewater Wind project can get off the ground quickly, and more wind projects do get approved off Delaware’s coast, Sussex County could potentially land a company that manufactures parts for wind projects to locate here. When Coastal Point staff met with officials from the company a few months ago, that was one element they openly discussed.

This could mean permanent job growth for the region, with many of those jobs being high-tech and built for the future. That is something county and local officials have been coveting for years.

Another potential positive for our community from this is the continuation of construction jobs. The slumping housing market has hit a good chunk of our workforce hard, and new projects are always welcomed.