The federal government and 10 East Coast governors last week created the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to help facilitate commercial wind development in the region.

The governors of Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia signed a memorandum of understanding with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to form the consortium and provide coordination between the federal government and the states.

Officials are seeking to develop wind energy projects on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to reduce the region’s dependence on oil and create jobs. Salazar last June executed four interim policy leases to explore offshore wind projects in New Jersey and Delaware, according to Leann Bullin, spokeswoman for the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service.

Last month, Salazar approved the nation’s first-ever offshore wind farm, to be located in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound. Massachusetts has yet to announce any state funding for the $1 billion initiative, called Cape Wind. Officials anticipate the development will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from conventional electric power plants by 700,000 tons per year and potentially supply Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket with 75% of their electricity needs.

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