U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have entered into an agreement for offshore renewable energy development and to facilitate the permitting of projects. DOI is responsible to permit and develop renewable energy resources on the outer continental shelf. The DOI has permitting and development authority over wind power projects that use offshore resources beyond state waters. FERC will be responsible for managing the licensing of projects.

The US has significant renewable energy resources in offshore waters, including wind energy, solar energy, and wave and ocean current energy.

Joint Statement Between DOI And FERC Signed By Secretary Salazar And Acting Chairman Wellinghoff:

Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Secretary of the DOI, acting through the Minerals Management Service, has the authority to grant leases, easements, and rights-of-way on the outer continental shelf for the development of oil and gas resources. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to provide the DOI with parallel permitting authority with regard to the production, transportation, or transmission of energy from additional sources of energy on the outer continental shelf, including renewable energy sources.

DOI’s authority does not diminish existing responsibilities that other agencies have with regard to the outer continental shelf. In that regard, under the Federal Power Act, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the statutory responsibility to oversee the development of hydropower resources in navigable waters of the US.

Hydrokinetic power potentially can be developed offshore through new technologies that seek to convert wave, tidal and ocean current energy to electricity. FERC will have the primary responsibility to manage the licensing of such projects in offshore waters pursuant to the Federal Power Act, using procedures developed for hydropower licenses, and with the active involvement of relevant federal land and resource agencies, including the DOI.

We have requested our staffs to prepare a short memorandum of understanding that sets forth these principles, and which describes the process by which permits and licenses related to renewable energy resources in offshore waters will be developed.

“Our renewable energy is too important for bureaucratic turf battles to slow down our progress. I am proud that we have reached an agreement with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding our respective roles in approving offshore renewable energy projects. This agreement will help sweep aside red tape so that our country can capture the great power of wave, tidal, wind and solar power off our coasts,” secretary Salazar said.