Interior to hold first wind energy lease sale on OCS

The US Department of the Interior plans to sell leases for wind farms offshore Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia, marking the first lease sale for wind energy on the Outer Continental Shelf, officials said from Washington, DC, on Nov. 30.

Interior Sec. Ken Salazar announced competitive lease sales are planned for 2013 in two areas. Salazar made the announcement along with Interior Deputy Sec. David J. Hayes and US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.

“As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are moving forward at the same time with efforts to ensure that America continues to lead the world at developing the energy of the future,” Salazar said.

Hayes said, “Holding competitive lease sales on the wind-rich East Coast is ushering in a new chapter in America’s development of renewable energy.” Federal officials are working closely with Rhode Island and the other states to identify the best areas for offshore wind farms, he said.

BOEM announced the Proposed Sale Notices to offer 277,550 acres in one area offshore Virginia and another area 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 164,750 acres and is about 9 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coast. The area will be auctioned as two leases, the North Zone and South Zone.

The proposed lease area offshore Virginia will be auctioned as a single lease and covers 112,800 acres about 23.5 nautical miles offshore southern Virginia.

BOEM has posted online more information about the proposed sale notice for Rhode Island and Massachusetts and also the proposed sale notice for offshore Virginia.

Currently, the US has no offshore wind farms although some are in development in state waters off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Delaware.

The Cape Wind project, a wind farm under construction in federal water off Cape Cod, Mass., is scheduled to be running in 2015. It was approved before the competitive leasing system for wind energy was implemented.

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