The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Nov. 9 held the nation’s fifth competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters, offering nearly 344,000 acres offshore of New Jersey for potential wind energy development.
The provisional winners of the lease sale are:
- RES America Developments Inc., which bid $880,715 for lease area OCS-A 0498 (160,480 acres); and
- US Wind Inc., which bid $1,006,240 for OCS-A 0499 (183,353 acres).
Fishermen’s Energy LLC also participated in the lease sale, Interior noted in a Nov. 9 statement.
According to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area leased could support about 3,400 MW of commercial wind generation.
“Today’s auction underscores the emerging market demand for renewable energy and marks another major step in standing up a sustainable offshore wind program for Atlantic coast communities,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “Through extensive outreach and public engagement, we reduced potential use conflicts while moving the country closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy along the Atlantic coast.”
“We are pleased to see continued commercial interest in the offshore wind industry, as demonstrated by today’s lease sale. With provisional winners for both lease areas, we are optimistic about the promise of a strong renewable energy future offshore New Jersey, as well as for the entire nation,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “I look forward to working with the members of the New Jersey Renewable Energy Task Force and the public on future wind energy projects proposed for these leases by RES America Developments Inc. and US Wind Inc.”
Prior to the Nov. 9 lease sale, BOEM had awarded nine commercial offshore wind leases, including seven through the competitive lease sale process (two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia).
Efforts to spur responsible development of offshore wind energy are part of a series of Obama Administration actions to increase renewable energy both offshore and onshore, in coordination with state, local and federal partners. Most recently, the White House convened a summit about offshore wind, which brought together federal agencies, state leaders, offshore wind developers, environmental groups and others to discuss the path forward for offshore wind.
Also, in July, Secretary Jewell and Director Hopper joined Rhode Island officials to celebrate the start of construction on Deepwater Wind’s $225 million, 30-MW offshore wind project. The facility, which will provide electricity to Block Island and Rhode Island mainland consumers, required the Interior Department’s approval because part of its submerged transmission cable crosses federal waters.
The New Jersey Wind Energy Area starts about seven nautical miles offshore and extends roughly 21 nautical miles seaward. Each lease will have a preliminary term of one year, during which the lessee will submit a Site Assessment Plan to BOEM for approval. A Site Assessment Plan describes the activities (installation of meteorological towers and buoys) a lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area.
Once a Site Assessment Plan is approved, the lessee will have four and a half years to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan provides detailed information for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. Once BOEM receives a COP from a lessee, BOEM will conduct an environmental review of that proposed project. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 25 years.