The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) released a request for interest (RFI) for offshore wind projects in federal waters off Massachusetts.
The RFI seeks to gauge the nascent offshore wind industry's interest in developing wind farms in a 3,000 square-mile area south of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island. Responses are due by Feb. 28, 2011.Â
The RFI is the first step under U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's ‘Smart from the Start’ offshore wind renewable energy initiative. It allows BOEMRE to identify priority areas for potential wind energy development, and promotes an informed and responsible siting and permitting process for offshore wind projects.Â Â
BOEMRE's process will include review of RFI responses by the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force, as well as public participation and thorough environmental review under all applicable laws before any energy projects are permitted.Â
Developers responding to the RFI are required to include specific blocks of interest in the RFI area, project goals, a project timeline, available wind resource and environmental data for the relevant area, and proof that the developer is legally, technically and financially qualified.Â
For details of the RFI, click here.
Similar offshore wind RFIs have been issued in Delaware and Maryland.Â
In October, Salazar granted the first lease for an offshore wind farm in the U.S., to Cape Wind, allowing the developer to construct 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound.Â
Coinciding with the BOEMRE announcement, Massachusetts says it is committed to developing a research and development program to reduce the cost of offshore wind. Specifically, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) will partner with and provide matching funds for Massachusetts research institutions and offshore wind industry leaders to win Department of Energy (DOE) funding in order to achieve the DOE's goal of reducing the cost of offshore wind by 40% by the end of this decade and 60% (to 7 to 9 cents per kWh) by 2030.Â