New Projects, Renewables, Wind

Interior announces first renewable energy lease sales on Outer Continental Shelf

Department of the Interior Outer Continental Shelf offshore wind Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

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The Department of Interior on Nov. 30 announced competitive lease sales for renewable energy development in two wind energy areas (WEAs) in federal waters. The lease sales, which will be held next year, will be the first-ever competitive sales on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for wind energy, and are major milestones in the Administration’s “Smart from the Start” wind energy program to facilitate the siting, leasing and construction of new projects. These lease sales cover two WEAs along the Atlantic coast that have high wind resource potential.

The announcement advances steps taken by the Obama Administration to develop the full range of energy resources available on the Outer Continental Shelf. Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 229 was held on Nov. 28 in New Orleans and built on two major Gulf of Mexico lease sales in the past year – a 21 million acre sale held last December and a 39 million acre sale held in June.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the Proposed Sale Notices today to offer 277,550 acres in two WEAs – one area offshore Virginia and the other area of mutual interest offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The areas proposed for leasing are expected to be able to support more than 4,000 MW of wind generation.

The area of mutual interest proposed for leasing offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts covers approximately 164,750 acres and is about 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline. The area will be auctioned as two leases, referred to as the North Zone and South Zone. The North Zone lease will consist of about 97,500 acres and has the capacity to support more than 1,000 MW of wind generation. The South Zone lease will consist of about 67,250 acres and is capable of supporting a project of between 350 – 1,000 MW. Together, these zones could support enough electricity to power 700,000 homes. For a map of the proposed area, click here.

The proposed lease area offshore Virginia will be auctioned as a single lease and totals about 112,800 acres about 23.5 nautical miles offshore southern Virginia. It is expected to support more than 2,000 MW of wind generation – also enough electricity to power 700,000 homes. For a map of the proposed area, click here.

The 60-day comment period for the notices ends on Feb. 1, 2013. Comments received or postmarked by that date will be made available to the public and considered prior to the publication of the Final Sale Notices, according to the Interior Department. BOEM will host a public seminar for each WEA during the comment period to introduce potential stakeholders to the auction format, explain the auction rules and demonstrate the auction process through meaningful examples.

For more information on the Rhode Island/Massachusetts Proposed Sale Notice, click here.

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