Interior Announces First Offshore Wind Farm Lease Sale

The Department of Interior announced today that it has scheduled the nation's first offshore wind lease sale in federal waters. The nearly 165,000 acre lease sale is scheduled to take place on July 31st for commercial wind energy development off the coastal waters of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

In the department's press release, Interior Secretary Sally Jewel said, "“Today we are moving closer to tapping into the enormous potential offered by offshore wind to create jobs, increase our sustainability, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier. As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are also working to ensure that America leads the world in developing the energy of the future.” The proposed area being opened for leasing is approximately 9 miles off the coasts of both Rhode Island and Massachusetts and according to a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Lab the area has enough potential power capacity for roughly 1 million homes. The leases will be broken up into two sections. According to the AP, the north block is roughly 150 square miles and south block is approximately 100 square miles.

Although the high-profile Cape Wind farm planned off the Coast of Cape Cod has already received federal approval, it predates the leasing system developed by the Department of Interior and Department of Energy's 2011 strategic plan for wind energy corridors and there are no current offshore wind farms in the US. Cape Wind is still under development and its backers are raising capital with construction potentially occurring sometime this year.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will manage the lease and auction process and will use several considerations such as whether a bidder holds a Joint Development Agreement or a Power Purchase Agreement and the amount of cash bids made by companies before issuing leases. BOEM has determined the following companies will be eligible to participate in the auction:

  • Deepwater Wind New England, LLC
  • EDF Renewable Development, Inc.
  • Energy Management, Inc.
  • Fishermen’s Energy, LLC
  • Neptune Wind, LLC
  • Sea Breeze Energy, LLC
  • U.S. Mainstream Renewable Power (Offshore) Inc.
  • US Wind Inc.