The Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) on Thursday said they had begun a process to offer Bluewater Wind Delaware the first commercial wind lease off the coast of Delaware under the “Smart from the Start” Atlantic Offshore Wind program.
The agencies said a determination had shown no need for competitive bidding, because there was “no competitive interest for commercial wind energy development in this area of the Outer Continental Shelf.” But several steps remain before a lease can be issued, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, including environmental reviews and consultation with other federal, state, local, and tribal organizations.
Additionally, once a lease is issued, the developer will be required to submit a detailed construction and operation plan that will be subject to further environmental review and public comment before any final decision is made on a proposed project.
Bluewater Wind Delaware, an NRG Energy–owned firm, has proposed a phased wind turbine development 11 miles east of Dewey Beach, Del. The company has an agreement with Delaware officials to sell offshore power to the state’s largest utility, Delmarva.
BOEMRE said it received only one response—from Bluewater Wind Delaware—to an April 2010 request for interest in the Federal Register regarding wind energy development in federal waters offshore Delaware. It did not receive any other expressions of interest even after it published a second Federal Register notice in January 2011.
Public comments submitted as part of the procedure ask BOEMRE to collaborate with the U.S. Coast Guard to better quantify the amount and location of vessel activity in the proposed lease area and evaluate methods to analyze the effects of wind energy facilities and infrastructure on marine vessel traffic.
BOEMRE said it would also scrutinize, under a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, potential effects associated with issuing a commercial wind energy lease and site characterization activities, such those affecting commercial fishing.
Sources: DOI, BOEMRE, POWERnews