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Off shore wind turbines in designated Wind Energy Areas have cleared a major environmental review, according to the US Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

BOEM’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment found that there would be no significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases in designated Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) areas off the mid-Atlantic Coast. NEPA is the US equivalent to our Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This allowed BOEM to invite wind developers to seek wind leases and to request public comments regarding site conditions, resources and multiple uses of the designated Wind Energy Areas. A pro-forma lease has already been developed, and will be effective 15 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment released its year-old report, confirming that wind turbines have no direct health effects, and has reportedly retained a noise consultant, Aercoustics Engineering Limited, to develop a Sound Measurement Protocol for Wind Farms. The British Institute of Acoustics has a similar project underway, having set up a working committee to review the available evidence, and to produce good practice guidance on wind turbine noise assessment. The committee expects to consult on the guidance in spring 2012, with the final guidance being published in summer 2012.

The main current issue for Ontario’s renewable energy proponents, including wind and solar, is the FIT review, as the current uncertainty makes it very hard to plan.

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