Energy Facility Siting: Case Studies
Below are examples of projects states have supported with their coastal zone management funding.
- Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in Massachusetts and Rhode Island
- Oregon’s Comprehensive Plan for Offshore Renewable Energy
- Ohio’s Lake Erie Wind Energy Mapping Project and Rules
- New Jersey Supports Onshore and Offshore Wind Energy Development
- Pipeline Corridor in Lake Pontchartrain, LA
Coastal and ocean waters have diverse natural resources that support rich maritime traditions—fishing, shipping, recreational boating, scientific research, aquaculture, energy production, and tourism. As the country and states seek to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on oil, the interest in offshore renewable energy, including wind turbines, has grown. However, with this new use of the ocean comes potential conflict with existing activities. Rhode Island and Massachusetts are two states that have embarked on comprehensive ocean planning efforts to facilitate the siting of offshore wind turbines while protecting current uses and critical habitats.
In 2008, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and the University of Rhode Island teamed up with many other Federal, state, tribal and local partners to develop an Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). The two year research and planning process will integrate the best available science with open public input and involvement. The final Ocean SAMP will enable the state to have preselected sites that are environmentally and technically sound for wind facility development and, most importantly, have public and government acceptance. This will increase permitting predictability for renewable energy projects and expedite application review.
The Massachusetts Oceans Act of 2008 required the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to develop a Massachusetts Ocean Plan. The final plan, which was released in December 2009 after an extensive scientific and stakeholder process, establishes three types of management areas for the state’s ocean waters: prohibited, renewable energy, and multiuse. The plan facilitates future wind turbine siting by identifying two areas suitable for commercial scale wind projects while enabling sensitive natural resource areas to have added protection. The majority of the state’s ocean waters remain open for a variety of uses and activities.
In response to a growing number of proposals for wave energy facilities, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) began an effort to develop a comprehensive plan for ocean energy development in state waters in late 2008. This effort has involved two components: 1) identification of necessary policies and processes, and 2) spatial mapping and valuation of nearshore fisheries based on interviews with fishermen. To address the first component, DLCD developed a new section in the Territorial Sea Plan titled "Use of the Territorial Sea for the Development of Renewable Energy Facilities or Other Related Structures, Equipment or Facilities." This section includes policies that apply to state and federal agency approvals for the location and operation of ocean-based energy power generation facilities in the Oregon Territorial Sea. The Land Conservation and Development Commission adopted the new section and its corresponding administrative rule (OAR 660-036-0005) on November 5, 2009. The second component of the effort is still underway, but it will result in maps that designate areas for locating and developing renewable energy facilities in the state's territorial sea. These maps will be incorporated into the Territorial Sea Plan through a later amendment to the plan.
Over the past several years, there has been significant interest in siting offshore wind generation facilities in the relatively shallow central and western Lake Erie basins. This area has strong sustained offshore wind speeds as well as close proximity to major populations centers such as Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit. The Ohio Coastal Management Program (OCMP) has been working with many coastal partners in planning for potential wind energy facility siting in the state’s Lake Erie waters.
The OCMP has undertaken a wind turbine placement favorability mapping project with the goal of minimizing potential conflicts with other Lake Erie uses. This project has identified areas of potential conflict such as shipping lanes, shipwreck sites, important bird areas, and commercial and recreational fishing grounds. The OCMP developed a weighting system to rank each attribute, and utilized GIS to develop a map that identifies those areas least likely to generate conflicts between wind facilities and other users. This ongoing mapping project will incorporate new data sets into the maps and weighting criteria as they become available. Since migratory bird data is a high priority, the OCMP is currently supporting the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s research and monitoring of avian and bat resources.
The OCMP is also drafting rules for the placement of Lake Erie wind-powered electrical generation facilities. The rules will be based upon Ohio’s existing submerged lands leasing and permitting authorities, and will likely incorporate a pre-lease “option.” Such an option would allow potential facility developers to conduct further research on a specific site’s suitability for wind energy facilities prior to submitting a final lease application for state review.
The New Jersey Coastal Program has been actively engaged in onshore and offshore wind energy issues for numerous years. In 2004, the Governor established a Blue Ribbon Panel on Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters, which published a report in 2006. In response to the report’s recommendations, the state solicited proposals for ecological baseline studies regarding the distribution, abundance, and migratory patterns of avian species, marine mammals, and turtles within a study area that extends 20 nautical miles offshore. These baseline surveys began in January 2008 and a final report will be published in December 2009. The survey results will assist the state in determining potential areas suitable for wind power development.
The state has also encouraged offshore energy development by announcing a goal of installing 1000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2012. To support this goal, the state approved a $12 million dollar rebate program designed to assist three developers who had proposed the construction of wind turbine facilities with the construction of meteorological towers. New Jersey Coastal Program staff have worked closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Minerals Management Service to help the developers get the necessary permits and lease sales to move the projects forward.
In addition to supporting offshore wind activities, the New Jersey Coastal Program is addressing the development of onshore wind facilities. The program is working to amend its rules to facilitate the construction of wind turbines in the coastal zone in appropriate locations, identify particular areas where construction of large scale wind turbines would not be appropriate, and establish monitoring, habitat evaluation, and impact assessment requirements for birds and bats.
There are hundreds of pipelines currently in Lake Pontchartrain. The number and placement of pipelines in the lake is a significant issue in Louisiana in terms of environmental impacts, user conflicts, and public perception. To address this issue, the Louisiana Coastal Resources Program contracted for a project to develop pipeline policies for the lake. Based on the information and recommendations in the study, the Louisiana Coastal Management Division developed Lake Pontchartrain pipeline corridor policies, generally referred to as the "corridor policy." Effective July 1, 2004, all pipelines installed in Lake Pontchartrain must be processed (via permit application and issuance) according to the corridor policy. There are specific design and construction criteria/constraints that must be incorporated into pipeline projects and that will be included in permit specifications and/or conditions. The policy identifies a north/south corridor and an east/west corridor as preferred routes for pipeline installations in Lake Pontchartrain. For any proposed pipeline outside either corridor, the applicant has the burden to demonstrate why the situation is exceptional and deserving of an exemption to the siting. The Louisiana Coastal Management Division holds a public hearing for every case proposed outside of a corridor, and public comments at the hearing are considered in the Division's review and evaluation of the permit.