An announcement today doubles the amount of area available for offshore wind in the US, as Massachusetts agreed to open 742,000 acres for commercial leases.
Located about 12 miles offshore, the "Massachusetts Wind Energy Area" runs 33 nautical miles from north to south and 47 nautical miles east to west. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) proposes auctioning the area as four leases.
To get stakeholders on board, Governor Patrick established several working groups – one on commercial fisheries, one on habitats, and another on offshore wind. The state also collected and presented spatial information and data for the Wind Energy Area regarding marine mammals, birds, ocean floor, geology, commercial ship traffic, and recreational boating to inform BOEM’s offshore wind planning process. They also held dozens of public meetings.
"Thanks to Governor Patrick’s vision and leadership, the competitive lease sale in Massachusetts will reflect the extensive and productive input from a number of important stakeholders. This includes interests such as commercial fishing, shipping, cultural, historical, environmental, and local communities to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers," says Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior.
The process is a great example of Department of Interior’s "Smart from the Start" program for offshore wind along the Atlantic Coast.
Massachusetts has the only port in the nation designed to handle the unique requirements off offshore turbines, the Marine Commerce Terminal.
Off the east coast, five offshore leases have been awarded in two auctions since 2013, when the first auction took place, for a total of 277,550 acres of federal waters. More auctions take place in Wind Energy Areas off the coast of Maryland and New Jersey this year.
Leases awarded to date:
- Cape Wind – Massachusetts
- Deepwater Wind – Rhode Island/ Mass.
- NRG Bluewater Wind – Delaware
- Dominion Virginia Power – Virginia
New Jersey is primed for offshore wind, but officials keep rejecting even the small pilot project proposed by Fishermen’s Energy.
This year, the Department of Energy awarded funding for three demonstration projects on new offshore wind technologies, which includes the one from Fishermen’s.
Public comments are being accepted for the next 60 days under Docket No. BOEM-2014-0034: