Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper on Oct. 27 announced that 79,350 acres offshore New York will be offered in a Dec. 15 commercial wind lease sale.
“Today’s announcement not only marks another milestone for the U.S. offshore wind energy program, but also demonstrates how our collaborative efforts with state, local and private sector partners can advance a clean energy future in the United States,” said Jewell. “Industry interest remains strong with more than a dozen qualified bidders as we take another step closer to harnessing the enormous potential of offshore wind energy for Atlantic coastal communities.”
The New York Wind Energy Area starts approximately 11.5 nautical miles (nm) from Jones Beach, N.Y. From its western edge, the area extends approximately 24 nm southeast at its longest portion. The lease area consists of five full Outer Continental Shelf blocks and 143 sub-blocks.
“New York is a critical component in building a robust U.S. offshore wind industry,” said Hopper. “The process to develop and refine the New York lease area, as well as the online auction, reflects the deep commitment BOEM has to listening and responding to stakeholders and ensuring that all voices are heard as we forge a path to a clean energy future.”
To date, BOEM has awarded eleven commercial wind leases, including nine through the competitive lease sale process. These lease sales have generated more than $16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.
After reviewing comments received on the Environmental Assessment, BOEM removed about 1,780 acres from the lease area due to environmental concerns regarding a seafloor feature known as the Cholera Bank. The National Marine Fisheries Service identified the Cholera Bank feature as a sensitive habitat to be avoided for the placement of structures. As a result of this removal, the revised lease area will be approximately 2% smaller than the lease area considered in the Proposed Sale Notice.
In response to concerns raised by commercial fishing interests, BOEM also has included a lease requirement for the lessee to develop a publicly available Fisheries Communications Plan and work with a Fisheries Liaison to facilitate communication with the fishing industry.
This Oct. 27 announcement also identified 14 companies that BOEM has deemed legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale:
- Avangrid Renewables LLC
- CI-II NY Inc.
- DONG Energy Wind Power (U.S.) Inc.
- Innogy US Renewable Projects LLC
- wpd offshore Alpha LLC
- Deepwater Wind Hudson Canyon LLC
- Energy Management Inc.
- Convalt Energy LLC
- Clean Power Northeast Development Inc.
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
- Statoil Wind US LLC
- EDF Renewable Development Inc.
- Fishermen’s Energy LLC
- Sea Breeze Energy LLC
The Final Sale Notice also contains additional provisions that respond to public comments. For instance, BOEM will consider monetary and nonmonetary factors (i.e., 10% credit for government authorities) in determining the winner. The Final Sale Notice contains more information about these requirements and other relevant sale items, such as deadlines and milestones for bidders, the area available for leasing, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating bids, award procedures and lease execution.
Revised enviro review issued for lease area
Under the terms of the Final Sale Notice, which will be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31, the lease area will be auctioned as Lease OCS-A 0512. Concurrently, BOEM will release a revised environmental assessment (EA) for commercial wind lease issuance and related activities within the Wind Energy Area offshore New York. The EA considers reasonably foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing a renewable energy lease and conducting site characterization (e.g., surveys) and assessment (e.g., installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys) activities in the designated area.
As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the issuance of the commercial wind lease and related activities would not significantly impact the environment. The revised EA addresses comments received in response to an environmental assessment published in June 2016 for public review.
This effort to encourage competitive leasing was kicked off when in September 2011, BOEM received an unsolicited request for a commercial lease offshore New York from the New York Power Authority (NYPA). NYPA worked together with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) and Consolidated Edison (ConEd) to propose a 350-MW to 700-MW offshore wind project to be located south of Long Island, New York, approximately 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.
For more information on the New York lease area and upcoming auction, as well as the revised EA, visit BOEM’s website at http://www.boem.gov/New-York.
The Sierra Club said in an Oct. 27 statement that this area is large enough to support a large-scale commercial wind project. It added that the New York State Energy Development and Research Authority (NYSERDA) has announced its intention to bid into this auction in order to control the timing and cost of offshore wind development at the site.
With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard requiring New York to source 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030, a major commitment to offshore wind power from both the state and federal government is essential, the club said. National, state and local organizations have called on the governor to commit to a long-term, large-scale offshore wind program for New York that will provide the certainty and longevity needed to get offshore wind to scale and for the Long Island Power Authority to move forward New York’s first offshore wind project this year.
Lisa Dix, Senior New York Representative for the Sierra Club, said: “Today’s announcement is another critical step towards ensuring New York’s clean energy future. We’re looking forward to working with BOEM and the State to secure offshore wind off of the Rockaways. Offshore wind has the ability to provide Long Island and New York City with safe, reliable and clean energy to illuminate millions of homes and help the Governor meet his 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 target.”
Liz Gordon, Director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, said: “This key action by BOEM reflects a major commitment by our federal government to the large-scale development of offshore wind power for New York. The upcoming lease auction will launch a new offshore wind power era – one where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers can get clean power from a local resource and Governor Cuomo’s goal of 50 percent renewables by 2030 can be realized.”