The recent federal government shutdown has delayed plans for a third auction of U.S. offshore wind rights, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Offshore Windpower Conference in Providence, R.I., on Oct. 22.
Jewell told the gathering she had hoped to announce the date for an Interior auction of offshore wind power rights near the Maryland coast, but that was delayed by the recently-concluded government shutdown.
“Had we not been shut down for two-and-a-half weeks I would be announcing the next sale date for the Maryland wind energy area. I don’t have that firm date for you but it will be coming up,” Jewell said.
Interior also plans to announce sales for tracts near New Jersey and Massachusetts in the coming months. Those auctions are likely to take place in 2014, Jewell said.
Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held its first competitive lease sale for offshore wind rights in July. Deepwater Wind New England was the winner of that first auction, securing wind energy rights to a 164,000-acre area near the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
The second auction incurred in September when Dominion (NYSE:D) subsidiary Virginia Electric Power Co. won the wind rights to a 112,000-acre tract off the coast of Virginia.
“Two down and many more to go,” Jewell said. “These are heavily-trafficked offshore areas” that are used for both sailing and shipping, Jewell said.
Offshore wind development involves a web of state and federal issues as well as generation and transmission technology, Jewell said. Interior is trying to learn “what’s the same and what’s different” from offshore oil and natural gas development and applying it to wind energy, she added.
President Obama’s climate control program calls for an expansion of renewable energy projects both on federal lands and offshore waters. Jewell said this requires close cooperation with all sorts of parties including investors, environmental interests, tribal and local governments as well as the Department of Defense.
Interior seeks to avoid litigation and conflicts by “bringing the partners to the table early on,” Jewell said.
“We do need energy to drive our economy. We do need green energy … to do it in a way that is softer on the planet,” Jewell told the gathering.
“We have a moral obligation to the next generation to address our carbon,” Jewell said. New England “is off to a fantastic start” on sustainable development, she added.
Interior made an electronic recording of the Jewell speech available to GenerationHub.