The Department of the Interior (DOI) on Tuesday awarded NRG’s Delaware-based unit Bluewater Wind a lease for commercial development of a 450-MW offshore wind farm on 96,430 acres of federal waters about 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware. But NRG last year put that project on hold and has considered selling it.

The lease is the first to be completed under the DOI’s “Smart from the Start” initiative, which seeks to promote environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). In October 2010, DOI Secretary Ken Salazar signed a 28-year lease for the 130-turbine Cape Wind project planned for the OCS in Nantucket Sound, offshore Massachusetts.

The lease granted on Tuesday to NRG Bluewater Wind gives that company the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. “The company may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) with a proposal to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, and/or submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore,” the DOI said.

In its original project nomination, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-MW project offshore Delaware. “This estimate could change after NRG undergoes additional planning and survey work, and submits its COP to BOEM, which will assess the potential plans based on environmental, technical and other factors before granting approval for construction,” the DOI said.

New Jersey–based NRG shelved development of the Delaware offshore wind project last December because it could not find an investment partner. The company also terminated the project’s 200-MW power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power and Light, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings Group.

Sources: POWERnews, DOI

—Sonal Patel, Senior Writer (@POWERmagazine)