The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) granted a lease for an offshore wind farm off the coast of Delaware to a unit of U.S. power company NRG Energy.
The government issued the first offshore wind lease in 2010 to privately held Cape Wind for its 420-megawatt (MW) wind farm off Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today announced that BOEM has reached agreement on a lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters that covers 96,430 acres approximately 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.
This is the first lease completed under Interior’s “Smart from the Start” approach to facilitate environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) by identifying wind energy areas in a coordinated, focused approach with extensive environmental analysis, public review and large-scale planning.
“Delaware has remarkable offshore wind potential, and harnessing this clean, domestic energy resource will create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Salazar. “The Administration has implemented a true all of the above approach to American energy, with renewable energy from sources like wind and solar doubling since the President took office, while at the same time domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in almost a decade and domestic natural gas production at its highest level ever.”
The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. The company may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) with a proposal to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, and/or submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore.
“This lease is the result of many months of hard work and collaboration among BOEM, our Federal partners, the Delaware Renewable Energy Task Force, and other stakeholders,” said Beaudreau. “I congratulate NRG Bluewater Wind and we look forward to their progress in standing up offshore wind energy generation under this lease.”
In its original project nomination, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-megawatt project offshore Delaware, with estimates that the project could generate enough power to supply electricity for over 100,000 homes. This estimate could change after NRG undergoes additional planning and survey work, and submits its COP to BOEM, which will assess the potential plans based on environmental, technical and other factors before granting approval for construction.
The lease area, which is composed of 11 full OCS blocks and 16 partial blocks, has been located to avoid existing uses of the OCS offshore Delaware, including but not limited to major shipping lanes into and out of Delaware Bay, a proposed vessel anchorage ground and a munitions disposal area.
On public lands and waters, Interior recently eclipsed a major milestone by meeting the President’s goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of large-scale renewable power by the end of the year. Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids.
When built, these projects will provide enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes, and support an estimated 13,000 construction and operations jobs according to project developers.
Today’s action is in line with the President’s direction to continue to expand domestic energy production, safely and responsibly. Since President Obama took office, domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production at an eight-year high, natural gas production at an all-time high, and foreign oil imports now accounting for less than 50 percent of the oil consumed in America – the lowest level since 1995.
A map of the lease area can be found on the BOEM website at http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/State-Activities/Delaware.aspx.
For more information “Smart from the Start” and BOEM’s Renewable Energy program, visit: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/index.aspx.