The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has held the nation’s fourth competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters offshore Massachusetts for potential offshore wind energy development. Developing offshore wind energy is part of President Obama’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy resources and cut carbon pollution.
“Offshore wind energy along the Atlantic holds great potential to help power our nation with renewable energy while adding jobs to the economy,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. According to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area leased could support approximately two gigawatts of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power over 700,000 homes.
This announcement builds on Interior’s work to stand up a sustainable offshore wind energy program through BOEM’s renewable energy program. Prior to today’s lease sale, BOEM has awarded five competitive offshore wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island, two offshore Maryland and another offshore Virginia. Including this auction, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in high bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters. BOEM expects to hold another competitive lease sale offshore New Jersey later this year. The two leased areas are found within the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, which starts about 12 nautical miles offshore Massachusetts.
Each lease will have a preliminary term of one year, during which the lessee will submit a Site Assessment Plan to BOEM for approval. A Site Assessment Plan describes the activities (installation of meteorological towers and buoys) a lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area.
If a Site Assessment Plan is approved, the lessee will then have up to five years in which to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan provides detailed information for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. After BOEM receives a COP from a lessee, BOEM will conduct an environmental review of that proposed project. Public input will be an important part of BOEM’s review process. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 25 years.