WASHINGTON Senators from two Northeast states urged U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to commit $400 million from the economic stimulus package to support an advanced wind energy program, especially for offshore wind projects.
The lawmakers want money budgeted for the department's energy efficiency and renewable energy activities set aside for developing domestic wind energy technologies so the United States can be compete with foreign wind companies.
The senators pointed out that the Norwegian government last month announced more funding for offshore wind energy.
"We believe the United States should move expeditiously to foster similar research to ensure that this potentially massive energy source can be developed with American technologies and American companies," the lawmakers said on Thursday in a letter to Chu.
The letter was sent by Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman.
About 1.5 percent of the U.S. electricity supplies provided by utilities and independent power producers this year will be generated by wind energy, according to the Energy Department.
"We recommend funding a comprehensive program to research, develop, and deploy offshore wind technologies and accelerate efforts to reach this potential," the lawmakers said.
They also called for more job training to boost the number of skilled workers who can build and maintain wind turbines.
(Reporting by Tom Doggett; Editing by Marguerita Choy