Offshore wind power takes another big step forward in Massachusetts

The U.S. offshore wind energy industry has made significant progress over the last several years and there was another exciting announcement this week.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to auction 742,000 acres offshore of Massachusetts for wind energy development.

The proposed area is the largest in federal waters and will nearly double the offshore area available for offshore wind energy projects in the U.S. BOEM proposes to auction it in four leases and a map of the proposed area is available here.

The auction notice, known as a Proposed Sale Notice, provides detailed information regarding:

  • The areas available for leasing
  • Proposed lease provisions and conditions
  • Auction details, including a lease form, criteria for evaluating competing bids, award procedures, and appeal procedures

The Proposed Sale Notice also initiated a 60-day public comment period that ends on August 18. After the public comment period ends, the next step is the issuance of a Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale as well as other important details.

Regarding this announcement, Secretary Jewell said, “Massachusetts is leading the way toward building a clean and sustainable energy future that creates jobs, cuts carbon pollution and develops domestic clean energy resources.” And Governor Patrick said that this announcement “is a momentous occasion and the culmination of years of cooperation and hard work between the Commonwealth and federal officials.”

Within the last year, BOEM has conducted two competitive lease auctions including one for two sites in an area off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and the other for an area off the coast of Virginia. Deepwater Wind was selected as the winner for the sites off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Dominion Virginia Power won the auction for the lease area off the coast of Virginia.

BOEM is expecting to hold additional competitive auctions for areas offshore of Maryland and New Jersey later this year.

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