On March 30, 2012, ten federal agencies and the governors of Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania signed a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) to develop a roadmap within 15 months that would describe the regulatory review process and data needed to “inform efficient review” of proposed offshore facilities in the Great Lakes. The MOU is designed to speed review of proposed offshore wind projects by increasing collaboration between federal and state agencies.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the Great Lakes' region is home to the largest offshore wind potential of any U.S. waters – 742.5 GW, or one-fifth of all potential wind energy in the United States. Each gigawatt of offshore wind power installed could produce electricity for 300,000 homes.

The MOU will not eliminate any of the myriad federal and state approvals needed to construct and operate an offshore wind project in the Great Lakes, but may ultimately result in one or more roadmaps that could be of real assistance to developers. In this client alert, we discuss some of the interest and opposition to offshore wind development in the region.