Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón introduced H.R. 1014, known as the “Offshore Wind for Territories Act,” a 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.
Over the past few years, there has been consensus around the need to modernize Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure by introducing more renewable energy sources, which would in turn reduce its impact on the environment and increase its efficiency. At present, only 2 percent of the island’s electricity originates from renewables, she said.
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.
H.R. 1014 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 of the Interior is directed to conduct a
lease sale, under which the territory would receive 37.5 percent of qualifying
revenues for environmental mitigation purposes and 12.5 percent would be
allocated for coral reef conservation.
This bill was introduced last Congress 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 was an original cosponsor and actively advocated for its passage.
The Offshore Wind for Territories Act is cosponsored by Representatives 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).