The Obama administration has announced funding for three offshore wind power projects off the New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia coastlines. The administration has pledged up to $47 million for each project to bring a total of 67 megawatts (MW) of green power online.
The price tag for all this green power: a staggering $11.75 million per wind turbine. In terms of energy, the twelve offshore wind turbines will cost $2.1 million per MW. But the high price tag has not deterred the Obama administration from funding the costly wind projects.
“Offshore wind offers a large, untapped energy resource for the United States that can create thousands of manufacturing, construction and supply chain jobs across the country and drive billions of dollars in local economic investment,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
According to Windustry, a utility scale wind turbine cost from $1.3 million to $2.2 million per MW. Most “commercial-scale turbines installed today are 2 MW in size and cost roughly $3-$4 million installed.”
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) says that the costs of offshore wind power are still high at $204 per megwatthour (MWh) — compared with the costs of onshore wind power at $80 per MWh.
Each of the projects can get up to $47 million in federal funding. Dominion Virginia Power will get funding to construct two 6-MW offshore wind turbines that could produce enough energy to power 3,000 homes, according to the Energy Department.
Five 5-MW wind turbines will be built off the cost of Atlantic City, New Jersey that will act as a laboratory for researchers who wish to study the impacts of offshore wind. Coos Bay, Oregon will get six 5-MW that will be built 18 miles off the coast in 1,000-foot deep water. The Energy Department says that over 60 percent of U.S. offshore wind resources are in deep waters, in particular on the West Coast.
“The Energy Department is working with public and private partners to harness this untapped resource in a sustainable and economic manner. The offshore wind projects announced today further this commitment — bringing more clean, renewable energy to our homes and businesses, diversifying our energy portfolio, and reducing costs through innovation.”
Environmentalists and many Republicans have hammered the Obama administration for its support of wind power. Republicans argue that the wind industry has benefited from subsidies and green energy mandates for decades and federal funding for such projects are wasteful.
Environmentalists are angry with the administration for not holding wind power companies accountable for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds every year. One study from 2013 said that 573,000 birds and 888,000 bats were killed by wind turbines every year, many of these birds are even federally protected.
The first energy company to be punished for bird deaths came in November 2013. A subsidiary of Duke Energy had to pay $1 million in fines for the killing of 160 birds at two wind farms in Wyoming.
But this has so far been the only wind energy case that federal officials have prosecuted. And it looks like there may not be many more as the Obama administration allowed energy companies to get 30-year permits to kill federally protected birds and eagles, enraging environmentalists.
“ABC has heard from thousands of citizens from across the country who are outraged that the [Interior Department] wants to let the wind industry legally kill our country’s iconic Bald and Golden eagles,” said Michael Hutchins, National Coordinator of ABC’s Bird Smart Wind Energy Campaign.
“The rule lacks a firm foundation in scientific justification and was generated without the benefit of a full assessment of its impacts on eagle populations,” Hutchins added.