The Department of the Interior (DOI) has issued the nation's initial request for interest (RFI) for renewable energy development off the coast of Delaware – the first step in leasing a wind energy project on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) under the framework established by the Obama administration.
Last April, DOI Secretary Ken Salazar and President Obama announced the final framework for OCS renewable energy development, which established a program to grant leases, easements and rights-of-way for orderly, safe and environmentally responsible development of renewable energy. The new program, administered by the DOI's Minerals Management Service (MMS), also established methods for sharing revenues generated from OCS renewable energy projects with affected coastal states.
Delaware officials have approved a proposal by Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC for the construction of a new power plant to sell up to 200 MW of power from an offshore wind farm to the state's largest utility, Delmarva. Bluewater is still required to apply to the MMS for an offshore lease, which may entail competing with other companies if competitive interest exists.
The MMS will use industry responses to gauge specific interest in the commercial development of wind resources off the state's shores. If responses indicate there is no competitive interest in this area, the agency may proceed with the noncompetitive lease process. Whether the leasing process is competitive or noncompetitive, it will include public participation, as well as a thorough environmental review conforming with all applicable laws.
The area covered in the RFI is in federal waters between the shipping routes for Delaware Bay. The closest point to shore is about 7.5 miles due east from Rehoboth Beach, Del. The geographic extent was selected through consultation with the Delaware Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Task Force, an intergovernmental coordination group led by the MMS. Task-force members include federal agencies, tribal governments and state and local agencies that have a role in permitting, reviewing or regulating resources or activities that are involved in energy development on the OCS.
The MMS' RFI also invites all interested and affected parties to comment and provide information that will be useful in considering the area of interest for commercial wind energy leases, including information on environmental issues and concerns.
The RFI will be published in the Federal Register on April 23 and can be found online at http://federalregister.gov/inspection.aspx.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior