On November 30, 2012, the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced leasing for 278,000 acres of wind energy offshore of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
The Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, stated: “We are implementing the President’s all-of-the-above strategy by focusing on developing areas with the lowest potential conflicts and the greatest expected gains. As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are moving forward at the same time with efforts to ensure that America continues to lead the world at developing the energy of the future.”
The lease sales will occur next year. They are the first competitive sales for wind energy on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The leases are for two wind energy areas off of the Atlantic coast that have high wind energy potential. BOEM estimates that the wind farms off of Virginia and Massachusetts/Rhode Island will generate up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity—enough to power 1.4 million homes.
The areas off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts are located about 9.2 nautical miles south of Rhode Island’s coastline and will cover about 164,750 acres. The government will provide an auction for two lease, called the North Zone and South Zone leases.
The area off of Virginia is located about 23.5 nautical miles offshore of southern Virginia and covers about 112,800 acres. A single lease will be sold at auction.
The Proposed Sales Notices will be listed in the Federal Register starting on December 3. Interested parties can find information about the areas being leased, provisions of the lease, details about the auction, award guidelines, appeal procedures, and more.
A 60-day comment period on the leased areas is available until February 1, 2013. Comments that are postmarked before February 1, 2013 will be published in the Final Sale Notices.
Tommy P. Beaudreau, the BOEM Director, stated: “Today’s announcement follows many months of hard work, stakeholder engagement and extensive collaboration with our federal, tribal, state and local government partners.”
Beaudreau praised the “Smart from the Start” strategy used during the leasing process. He states the process involves “identifying the areas along the Atlantic Coast best suited for commercial wind energy development, while working with key stakeholders to address potential conflicts with other uses, including commercial fishing and vessel traffic, early in the process.”
The specific time and day of the lease sale auctions will be listed in the Federal Register. The Final Sale Notices and auctions will occur in 2013.
Source: Department of the Interior