US Department of Interior to auction more than 742,000 acres in Massachusetts for offshore wind energy

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank earlier this week announced that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a January 29, 2015, competitive lease sale.

The move — believed to be DOI’s largest competitive lease sale to date for offshore wind energy development — is part of President Obama’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy resources and cut carbon pollution,

“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,” said Governor Patrick.

According to an analysis prepared by the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area being offered could support between 4 and 5 GW 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. Among them: Deepwater Wind New England, LLC; EDF Renewable Development, Inc; Energy Management, Inc; Fisherman’s Energy, LLC; Green Sail Energy, LLC; Iberdrola Renewables, Inc; NRG Bluewater Wind Massachusetts, LLC; Offshore MW, LLC; RES America Developments, Inc; Sea Breeze Energy, LLC; US Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore), Inc; and US Wind, Inc.
The announcement builds on the DOI’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,” Governor Patrick stated. “This offshore wind energy area not only has the capacity to generate enough electricity to power half the homes in Massachusetts, but it will also create local jobs and a renewable and home-grown source of power.”
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.