The Department of the Interior (DOI) on Friday announced that the nation’s first competitive lease sales on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for wind energy will be held next year. The lease sales cover 277,550 acres in two wind energy areas (WEAs) over federal waters along the Atlantic Coast that have a high wind resource potential.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) proposed sale notices essentially put up an area offshore Virginia and another offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island for lease. The areas proposed for leasing are expected to be able to support more than 4,000 MW of wind capacity.
The area of mutual interest proposed for leasing offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts covers approximately 164,750 acres and is located 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 and 1,000 MW, the DOI said.
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.
BOEM identified the WEAs in conjunction with renewable energy task forces, which include federal, state, local, and tribal government partners. BOEM has conducted environmental assessments to analyze the potential effects associated with issuing leases in these WEAs. In addition, BOEM will conduct a comprehensive site-specific National Environmental Policy Act review, including opportunities for public comment, for the construction of any proposed wind power facility.
The 60-day comment period for the notices ends on February 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. 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.
—Edited by Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)