- The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed leasing two areas for wind generation offshore Massachusetts totaling almost 390,000 acres, in support of President Donald Trump's "America-First Offshore Energy Strategy."
- The proposed sale will be published April 11 in the Federal Register, followed by a 60-day public comment period.
- The offshore wind industry is just getting started in the United States, and last week the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a high-level assessment of all waters offshore the United States Atlantic Coast for potential leases.
Right now there is only one offshore wind facility in operation in the U.S.: the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island. But the industry is gearing up for a major buildout, with projects proposed in several states on the East Coast. Now the Trump administration, pro-fossil fuel development, appears intent on expanding the resource as well.
In a statement, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the proposed lease sale supports the Trump Administration's "all-of-the-above energy policy" as well as "using every tool available to achieve American energy dominance."
Vincent DeVito, Interior Counselor for Energy Policy, said the proposed sale resulted from a broad stakeholder process, including fishing communities. “Together, we identified areas that can support a large-scale commercial wind project, while minimizing the impacts to fishing habitats, marine species, and other uses of the OCS.”
The auction format will be explained in a public seminar to be hosted by BOEM, at a time and date to be posted at the agency's Massachusett's web site.
The American Wind Energy Association hailed the federal government's announcements on the industry, and said BOEM's process to assess lease areas "is essential to unlock U.S. offshore wind’s technical potential, which is estimated to be nearly double current U.S. electricity use."
BOEM has previously awarded 13 commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast, the advocacy group noted.
Massachusetts is also in the midst of a state offshore wind solicitation, and a decision could come this month. Last year three wind developers submitted proposals in response to the state's solicitation for 400 MW of offshore wind capacity. A decision was expected by April 23, but could be delayed due to problems in another clean energy solicitation.
Other states in the region are also laying out the groundwork for offshore development.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has developed a "master plan" for the state's offshore wind energy industry to help meet its target of 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030. In Connecticut there are offshore wind proposals pending in response to the state's request for proposals to boost its clean energy. And in New Jersey, state regulators will hold a solicitation for 1,100 MW of offshore capacity.