DOI announces first offshore wind power lease sale

Department of the Interior offshore wind power lease sale Outer Continental Shelf Massachusetts Rhode Island

The U.S. Department of the Interior will be holding the first-ever competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf on July 31, the department announced Tuesday.

The department will offer 164,750 acres of land offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing, the department said. The land is located 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline and will be auctioned as two leases, with the  North Lease Area consisting of around 97,500 acres and the South Lease Area consisting of around 67,250 acres.

According to a recent report from the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the North Lease Area has the potential for 1,955 MW of capacity, while the South Lease Area has the potential for 1,440 MW of capacity.

The lease areas will be auctioned simultaneously and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will consider both nonmonetary factors, such as whether a bidder holds a joint development agreement or power purchase agreement, and monetary factors. The nonmonetary phase of the auction will begin on July 29, and the monetary phase will begin on July 31.

BOEM also announced it would host a mock auction for companies that have expressed an interest in bidding for the leases. The companies eligible to participate in the auction are Deepwater Wind New England LLC; EDF Renewable Development Inc.; Fishermen’s Energy LLC; IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Inc.; Neptune Wind LLC; Sea Breeze Energy LLC; U.S. Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore) Inc.; and US Wind Inc.

BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said the bureau determined the eligible companies are “legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale.”

The two lease areas are identical to those announced in the Proposed Sale Notice published in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period last December. BOEM will publish the Final Sale Notice in the Federal Register on June 5, which will contain specific information about the areas available for leasing, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluation bids, award procedures, lease execution and other information. The Final Sale Notice can be previewed at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2013-13197.pdf.

The bureau has also made a revised environmental assessment for commercial wind lease issuance within the area available. As a result of the revised environmental impact, the bureau issued a Finding of No Significant Impact concluding reasonably foreseeable effects associated with the wind leases would not significantly impact the environment.

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