Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank announced Nov. 24 that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a Jan. 29, 2015, competitive lease sale.
“This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier,” Jewell said.
The Massachusetts Wind Energy Area starts about 12 nautical miles offshore Massachusetts; from its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles.
According to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area being offered could support between 4 GW and 5 GW of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power over 1.4 million homes. Twelve companies have qualified to participate in the auction for the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area.
The companies that have qualified for the lease sale are;
● Deepwater Wind New England
● EDF Renewable Development
● Energy Management
● Fishermen’s Energy
● Green Sail Energy
● IBERDROLA RENEWABLES
● NRG Bluewater Wind Massachusetts
● RES America Developments
● Sea Breeze Energy, LLC
● US Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore)
● U.S. Wind
Move marks latest movement toward commercial offshore wind
To date, BOEM has awarded seven commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic Coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and five competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island, two offshore Maryland and another offshore Virginia).
Competitive lease sales have generated more than $14m in high bids for more than 357,500 acres in federal waters. BOEM is expected to hold another competitive offshore wind auction offshore New Jersey in 2015.
“Over the past five years, the Commonwealth has worked with its federal, state, tribal, industry and community partners to put the infrastructure and planning pieces in place to make Massachusetts the launch pad for the U.S. offshore wind industry,” Patrick said. “This offshore wind energy area not only has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power half the homes in Massachusetts, but it will create local jobs and a renewable and home-grown source of power,” Patrick said.
Under the terms of the Final Sale Notice, which will be published in the Federal Register on Nov. 26, 2014, the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be auctioned as four leases: Lease OCS-A 0500 (187,523 acres), Lease OCS-A 0501 (166,886 acres), Lease OCS-A 0502 (248,015 acres), and Lease OCS-A 0503 (140,554 acres).
The area available for auction is identical to the one announced in the Proposed Sale Notice that BOEM published in the Federal Register in June of this year, which was followed by a 60-day public comment period.