Federal regulators move forward with offshore wind leases off Massachusetts and California
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published two commercial leasing notices on Friday for proposals for commercial offshore wind leasing in California and for the sale of much-anticipated three leases in offshore Massachusetts.
- BOEM also announced the start of its required Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review for Deepwater Wind's 90 MW South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of New York.
- Deepwater Wind anticipates to begin '"in-hand, local construction" in 2021 on the 15-turbine project, which is due to be operational in 2022. BOEM's announcement, published in the Federal Register on Friday, kicked off a 30-day public comment period, including three public meetings in surrounding community areas in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
While the U.S. only has a 30 MW offshore wind project in operation currently, states have been setting more ambitious goals to develop the energy resource and picking up new leases is an important piece to bidding on future offshore solicitations.
The Interior Department will auction off three leases in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Massachusetts on Dec. 13. The three areas were unsold during a federal lease sale in 2015. Since then, Massachusetts has set a requirement to procure 1,600 MW of cost-effective offshore wind by June 2027 and the state already selected Vineyard Wind for an 800 MW project.
"The Massachusetts sale has a lot of potential for both energy and economic activity," Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the request for commercial lease proposals in the California OCS seeks to establish interest in the construction of offshore wind energy projects as BOEM considers possible future leasing.
BOEM's EIS review will examine Deepwater Wind's Construction and Operations Plan for South Fork, along with additional environmental considerations. The project requires state and federal permits in addition to completing the EIS.
"Our timeline is right on-schedule," Deepwater Wind's CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement following BOEM's announcement.
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