Yesterday, the United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) leased over 350,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts for offshore wind energy development. The sale is the largest of its kind in federal waters, almost doubling the space now available for commercial offshore wind projects.
According to the Department of the Interior, this area could generate about two gigawatts of commercial offshore wind energy if properly developed, capable of providing enough electricity to power over 700,000 homes.
Twelve companies qualified to participate in yesterday’s auction, but Offshore MW LLC and RES America Inc. were the winning bidders on the two of four lease sale areas sold.
Oceana applauds the sales and released the following statement from ocean advocate Nancy Sopko:
“This marks a truly momentous occasion in the effort to ignite offshore wind development in the U.S. With yesterday’s auction, nearly three-quarters of a million acres of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) have been leased for offshore wind development. We applaud yesterday’s lease sale and BOEM’s ongoing efforts in promoting the development of wind energy off our shores.
Unfortunately, these lease sales take place only days after the Obama administration opened the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling for the first time in U.S. history. We hope the administration’s commitment to developing renewable energy sources and reducing carbon emissions will prevail over the short-sighted politics and profits of offshore drilling. Oceana’s own analysis finds that offshore wind in the Atlantic would produce twice as much energy and twice as many jobs as offshore drilling, without the risk of a catastrophic spill.
The biggest barrier to clean and renewable offshore wind energy is attracting investment. While the federal government continues to move forward with offshore leasing, we must also stimulate investment in the industry if we want to reap the benefits of offshore wind for our communities. The Investment Tax Credit for offshore wind is a critically important way to stimulate investment, but it was allowed to expire at the end of 2014. We must all call on Congress to ensure the long-term availability of this critical incentive.”
In addition to Maryland, Virginia, Rhode Island and previous acreage in Massachusetts, this auction represents the fifth competitive lease sale for renewable energy in the OCS. BOEM is expected to hold another competitive offshore wind auction off of New Jersey’s coast later this year.