Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank announced this week that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a Jan. 29, 2015, competitive lease sale.
“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Patrick and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the hard work of BOEM staff members, this will be our largest competitive lease sale to date for offshore wind energy development,” said Jewell. “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.”
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 and 5 gigawatts 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 announcement builds on Interior’s work to stand up a sustainable offshore wind program through BOEM’s renewable energy program. 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 $14 million 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,” said Gov. Patrick. “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.”
“We are pleased to once again see strong commercial interest in offshore wind development, especially given the number and size of lease areas offshore Massachusetts available for potential development,” said Cruickshank. “We will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force members to keep the public informed on any future wind energy projects proposed by the winners of this auction.”
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. To see a map of the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, click HERE.
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.
BOEM has determined that the following 12 companies are legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale:
• Deepwater Wind New England LLC
• EDF Renewable Development Inc.
• Energy Management Inc.
• Fishermen’s Energy LLC
• Green Sail Energy LLC
• IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Inc.
• NRG Bluewater Wind Massachusetts LLC
• OffshoreMW LLC
• RES America Developments Inc.
• Sea Breeze Energy LLC
• US Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore) Inc.
• U.S. Wind Inc.
Under procedures outlined in the Final Sale Notice, BOEM will consider monetary and nonmonetary factors in determining the winner. The Final Sale Notice contains specific information about these and other deadlines and milestones for bidders, the area available for leasing, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating bids, award procedures, lease execution and other information.