In a brief competition lasting all of two rounds, Offshore MW LLC and RES Americas Inc. were named provisional winners for offshore wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior's (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Offshore MW and RES Americas won Lease Area OCS-A 0500 (187,523 acres) and OCS-A 0501 (166,886 acres), respectively.
Winning bids totaled $448,171 in high bids. The total acreage of these two areas nearly doubles the amount of acreage leased for wind energy through competitive sales. Lease OCS-A 0502 (248,015 acres) and Lease OCS-A 0503 (140,554 acres) did not receive bids.
According to an analysis prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if fully developed, the area leased could support approximately 2 GW of commercial wind generation – enough electricity to power over 700,000 homes.
The announcement builds on the DOI's work to stand up a sustainable offshore wind program through BOEM's renewable energy program. Prior to Massachusetts lease sale, BOEM has awarded five competitive wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island, two offshore Maryland and another offshore Virginia.
Including the Massachusetts auction, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in high bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters. BOEM expects to hold another competitive lease sale offshore New Jersey later this year.
According to BOEM, each lease will have a preliminary term of one year, during which the lessee will submit a site assessment plan to BOEM for approval. The plan describes the activities (installation of meteorological towers and buoys) that a lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area.
If a plan is approved, the lessee will then have up to five years in which to submit a construction and operations plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan provides detailed information for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. After BOEM receives a COP from a lessee, BOEM will conduct an environmental review of that proposed project. Public input will be an important part of BOEM's review process. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 25 years.