On Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) completed the nation's second competitive lease sale for offshore wind development in federal waters, garnering $1.6 billion in high bids for 112,799 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Virginia.
Virginia Electric and Power Co., a Dominion subsidiary, is the provisional winner of the sale, which auctioned a Wind Energy Area (WEA) approximately 23.5 nautical miles off Virginia Beach. According to the DOI, the WEA has the potential to support 2 GW of wind generation.
The auction lasted one day, consisting of six rounds before determining the provisional winner. Although eight companies were pre-approved to bid, only two firms participated: Virginia Electric and Power Co. and Apex Virginia Offshore Wind LLC.
The Attorney General, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission, will now have 30 days in which to complete an antitrust review of the auction. The lease will have a preliminary term of six months in which to submit a site assessment plan to BOEM for approval. Such a plan describes the activities (e.g., installation of meteorological towers and buoys) the lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease.
After the plan is approved, the lessee will have up to four-and-a-half years in which to submit a construction and operations plan (COP) for approval, which provides a detailed outline for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 33 years.
The sale follows a July 31 auction of 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for wind energy development that was provisionally won by Deepwater Wind, generating $3.8 million in high bids.
BOEM is expected to announce additional auctions for WEAs offshore Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts later this year and in 2014.