The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is taking steps that could lead to offshore wind farms along the East and West coasts.
BOEM on Oct. 19 asked companies to indicate their interest in developing three areas off the coast of California. BOEM is part of the Department of the Interior.
The parcels off California’s central and northern coastline total about 687,825 acres, but BOEM said it would consider changing the size of areas eligible for wind leases. BOEM delineated the areas in consultation with an interagency task force and the state of California.
BOEM this year received an unsolicited lease request from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, which is leading an effort to develop a wind farm offshore Humboldt County, according to the agency.
In March, the RCEA, a joint powers agency, selected a group of companies to develop the offshore project, including Principle Power, EDPR Offshore North America, Aker Solutions, H.T. Harvey & Associates and Herrera Environmental Consultants. The group aims to bring the wind farm into service in 2025.
Also, in early 2016, BOEM received an unsolicited lease request from Trident Winds for a project off Morro Bay, according to the agency.
If there is competing interest in the areas RCEA and Trident want to use, BOEM will move to a competitive lease process.
“Whether competitive or noncompetitive, the leasing process will include subsequent opportunities for public input, and any proposed actions will be reviewed thoroughly for potential environmental impacts and multiple use conflicts,” BOEM said.
Notices of interest are due by Jan. 28.
Meanwhile, BOEM plans to hold a lease auction on Dec. 13 for three areas off Massachusetts that total about 388,000 acres.
The leases cover areas that went unsold in a 2015 auction and include about 128,800 acres, 127,400 acres, and 132,400 acres, respectively. BOEM estimates the area could support wind generation totaling about 4,100 megawatts.
BOEM approved 19 companies to participate in the Massachusetts auction for the 33-year leases.
Massachusetts’ offshore wind target of 1,600 MW could double under a new state law.
After holding a request for proposals for offshore wind, Massachusetts officials this summer asked state utility regulators to approve 800 MW in offshore wind contracts. The contracts between a group of utilities — National Grid USA, Eversource Energy and Unitil — and Vineyard Wind average $65 per megawatt-hour, according to the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources.
Other states with offshore wind procurement targets include Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. New Jersey, for example, aims to support 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030.
BOEM said it is preparing an environmental impact statement for the 90-MW South Fork wind project offshore Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind expects to start building the wind farm in 2021 and bring it online a year later. Additional information on the project is available here.
So far, BOEM has granted 13 wind leases off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
The United States has one offshore wind farm, the 30-MW Block Island facility built by Deepwater Wind off Rhode Island.
Deepwater Wind in May won a contract to sell Rhode Island utilities power from a proposed 400-MW offshore wind farm.
Companies are developing about 25,460 MW of offshore wind in the United States, mostly off the East Coast, according to a Department of Energy report.
NYPA to lead offshore wind study; LIPA will also have role
A memorandum of understanding was signed this past summer by New York power agencies and partners to conduct a study of successful offshore wind transmission models, with a specific focus on large-scale European projects.
The New York Power Authority will lead the study and a number of parties including the Long Island Power Authority will collaborate with NYPA on the initial phase of the research.
Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, which will guide the state in the development of 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030.