New England Coast Offshore Wind Leases Announced

There is now more than 742,000 acres of offshore territory off the Massachusetts coast that is available for commercial wind energy leasing after a recent announcement. The announcement was made by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank along with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

This new area that has been opened up is the largest in federal waters and almost doubles the federal offshore acreage that is now available for commercial-scale wind energy projects.

Massachusetts WEA

Image: BOEM (click to enlarge)

“Massachusetts is leading the way toward building a clean and sustainable energy future that creates jobs, cuts carbon pollution and develops domestic clean energy resources,” said Secretary Jewell. “Thanks to Governor Patrick’s vision and leadership, the competitive lease sale in Massachusetts will reflect the extensive and productive input from a number of important stakeholders. This includes interests such as commercial fishing, shipping, cultural, historical, environmental, and local communities to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers.”

The area is called the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area and it is located some 12 miles offshore Massachusetts. From north to south is a distance of 33 nautical miles and from east to west it is around 47 nautical miles. The BOEM plans to auction the Wind Energy Area as four leases.

There have already been five commercial wind energy leases awarded by BOEM off the Atlantic coast. These leases comprise two noncompetitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). Around $5.4 million was raised for the competitive leases and they cover an area of about 277,550 acres in federal waters.

Additional competitive auctions are expected to be held by BOEM later in 2014 for Wind Energy Areas offshore Maryland and New Jersey.

The full press release that discusses the announcement can be found on the BOEM website here.

“The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been working hand in hand with BOEM to foster responsible commercial wind development in federal waters off Massachusetts,” said BOEM Acting Director Cruickshank. “Members of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force have been great partners in our planning process for the Wind Energy Area and the Proposed Sale Notice.”

The proposed sale notice begins a 60-day public comment period that ends at midnight on August 18. During that period BOEM will also accept application materials from parties interested in bidding on the leases.

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