Thursday, August 22, 2019

Puerto Rico congresswoman introduces bill to study offshore wind energy potential

By on February 8, 2019

(Photo by Nicholas Doherty on Unsplash)

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, has introduced H.R. 1014, the Offshore Wind for Territories Act, bipartisan legislation that would amend federal law to study the potential for offshore wind energy development in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone adjacent to Puerto Rico and the rest of the U.S. territories.

Saying that over the past few years there has been a consensus about the need to modernize Puerto Rico’s electric power infrastructure by introducing more renewable energy sources, the island’s member of Congress wants to add to that movement and reduce the impact on the environment and increase the grid’s efficiency. “Today, only 2% of the Island’s electricity originates from renewables.”

A release issued by her office explains that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), as amended, provides the Department of the Interior the authority to lease offshore lands for the purposes of renewable energy development.

“Offshore wind farms have consequently been authorized off the coast of states like Massachusetts and Rhode Island. However, OCSLA does not apply to the five U.S. territories, preventing them from potentially tapping into offshore renewable resources in adjacent federal waters,” the document reads.

H.R. 1014, she said, “seeks to address this omission by amending OCSLA to include Puerto Rico and the rest of the territories. Additionally, the Offshore Wind for Territories Act requires the Department of the Interior to conduct feasibility studies on offshore wind lease sales off all territories. Should a study determine that a wind lease is viable, the Department is directed to conduct a lease sale, under which the territory would receive 37.5% of qualifying revenues for environmental mitigation purposes and 12.5% would be allocated for coral reef conservation.”

The bill was introduced in the last congressional session by former Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of Guam and was unanimously approved by both the House Committee on Natural Resources and the U.S. House of Representatives.

González-Colón was an original cosponsor to the bill, which also includes Reps. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (I-Northern Mariana Islands), Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-American Samoa), Darren Soto (D-Florida) and Stacey Plaskett (D-U.S. Virgin Islands) as cosponsors.

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