Wind lease sales could become legal in US territories in the Pacific under legislation recently introduced by island delegates.
The new bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee and would set offshore wind lease-sale requirements, creating dedicated funding for coral reef conservation.
Sustainable power generation and reef conservation remain key issues for the islands, and the legislation aims to help both, while boosting revenues.
The US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy described offshore wind resources as abundant, strong and more consistent than land-based wind resources.
"More than 2000 gigawatts could be accessed in state and federal waters along the coasts of the United States and the Great Lakes, approximately two times the combined generating capacity of all U.S. electric power plants."
Congresswoman Aumua Amata Radewagen of American Samoa and Guam's Madeleine Bordallo joined representatives from Puerto Rico and Florida to present the bill.
The "Offshore Wind for Territories Act" amends earlier law to include lands in the US exclusive economic zone and the outer Continental Shelf near a territory or possession.
The term "state" also includes each US territory.
The bill distributes half the lease rents and royalties to the US Treasury, more than 12 percent in a permanent Coral Reef Conservation Fund, and the rest, 37.5 percent to the territories.
The measure requires a wind lease sale feasibility studies in all the territories.