U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper have announced that 79,350 acres offshore New York will be auctioned off in a commercial wind lease sale on Dec. 15.
The DOI notes that the New York Wind Energy Area starts approximately 11.5 nautical miles (nm) from Jones Beach, N.Y., and from its western edge, the area extends approximately 24 nm southeast at its longest portion.
“Today’s announcement not only marks another milestone for the U.S. offshore wind energy program, but also demonstrates how our collaborative efforts with state, local and private-sector partners can advance a clean energy future in the United States,” says Secretary Jewell. “Industry interest remains strong with more than a dozen qualified bidders as we take another step closer to harnessing the enormous potential of offshore wind energy for Atlantic coastal communities.”
To date, BOEM has awarded 11 commercial wind leases, including nine through the competitive lease sale process. According to BOEM, these lease sales have generated more than $16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.
After reviewing comments on the environmental assessment (EA), BOEM removed approximately 1,780 acres from the lease area due to environmental concerns regarding the Cholera Bank seafloor feature. In a comment letter, the National Marine Fisheries Service identified the Cholera Bank as a sensitive habitat to be avoided for the placement of structures. Consequently, the revised lease area will be approximately 2% smaller than the lease area considered in the proposed sale notice.
In response to concerns raised by commercial fishing interests, BOEM says it also has included a lease requirement for the lessee to develop a publicly available fisheries communications plan and work with a fisheries liaison to facilitate communication with the fishing industry.
This announcement identifies 14 companies that BOEM has deemed legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale:
- Avangrid Renewables LLC;
- CI-II NY Inc.;
- DONG Energy Wind Power (U.S.) Inc.;
- Innogy US Renewable Projects LLC;
- wpd offshore Alpha LLC;
- Deepwater Wind Hudson Canyon LLC;
- Energy Management Inc.;
- Convalt Energy LLC;
- Clean Power Northeast Development Inc.;
- New York State Energy Research and Development Authority;
- Statoil Wind US LLC;
- EDF Renewable Development Inc.;
- Fishermen’s Energy LLC; and
- Sea Breeze Energy LLC.
BOEM says the final sale notice also contains additional provisions that respond to public comments. For instance, BOEM will consider monetary and non-monetary factors (i.e., 10% credit for government authorities) to determine the winner. The final sale notice contains more information about these requirements and other sale items, such as deadlines and milestones for bidders, the area available for leasing, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating bids, award procedures, and lease execution.
The final sale notice will be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 31.
Concurrently, BOEM says it will release a revised EA for commercial wind lease issuance and related activities within the Wind Energy Area offshore New York. The EA considers reasonably foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing a renewable energy lease and conducting site characterization (e.g., surveys) and assessment (e.g., installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys) activities in the designated offshore area.
As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM says it has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the issuance of the commercial wind lease and related activities would not significantly impact the environment.
Liz Gordon, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, made the following statement regarding this new wind lease sale: “This key action by BOEM reflects a major commitment by our federal government to the large-scale development of offshore wind power for New York. The upcoming lease auction will launch a new offshore wind power era – one where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers can get clean power from a local resource, and Governor Cuomo’s goal of 50% renewables by 2030 can be realized.”