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Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, have introduced legislation to provide financial incentives for investment in offshore wind energy. Co-sponsors of the bill include Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The proposed Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act will provide the offshore wind industry with enhanced stability by extending investment tax credits (ITCs) for the first 3 GW of offshore wind facilities - which is an estimated 600 wind turbines - placed into service.

Once awarded a tax credit, companies have five years to install the offshore wind facility. Companies cannot receive other tax credits in addition to the offshore wind ITC.

"It is essential for the Carper-Snowe bill to be enacted into law since it provides for the ITC to be available to first-mover offshore wind farms over their long, five-to-seven-year development and permitting timelines," says Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, which issued a statement in support of the bill. "This law would send the necessary signals to the financial markets that offshore wind farms can be developed and financed."

The bill defines offshore facilities as any facility located in the inland navigable waters of the U.S., including the Great Lakes, or in the coastal waters - including territorial seas, the exclusive economic zone and the outer continental shelf of the U.S.

"Offshore wind is an American resource that has enormous electricity generation potential that is more consistent than onshore wind, while located adjacent to major cities," says Snowe, a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax issues. "This legislation provides a clear and consistent tax credit that will put our nation on the path to achieving our goal of operating 20 percent wind energy by 2030 and develop an incentive for energy companies to invest in this breakthrough technology."

According to the University of Delaware, the winds off the Atlantic Coast have the potential of generating 330 GW of power, which is enough power to replace about 300 large coal plants and support nine states from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

A number of proposed offshore wind projects are moving through the development process, including projects in Delaware, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Projects have also been discussed off the shores of Massachusetts, Maine and the Great Lakes states.

In Delaware, NRG Bluewater Wind has estimated it will create 1,200 jobs during the construction and approximately 300 jobs for operation and maintenance throughout the life of its project.

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