Distributed Energy Resources

Interior’s BOEM eyes more offshore wind sites in the Atlantic

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to launch a high-level assessment of potential wind farm sites in the Atlantic.

Although the United States has only one 30-megawatt wind facility off the Rhode Island coast, the groundwork for the sector is being laid. Of note, the Long Island Power Authority has contracted for 90 MW of power from Deepwater Wind’s South Fork Wind Farm off the southern coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, east of Montauk.

BOEM has completed 13 offshore wind leases off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, the agency said in a recent Federal Register notice.

States and industry stakeholders want BOEM, part of the Department of the Interior, to propose additional lease areas. “This feedback has been reinforced by increased competition in BOEM's most recent lease sales in New York and North Carolina, as well as a recent increase in the number of unsolicited lease applications submitted to BOEM,” the agency said.

Also, BOEM said it was asked to evaluate the next phase of its offshore wind leasing using a regional approach.

As part of the process, BOEM want comments on the areas where development may or may not be appropriate, and what factors the agency should use in the early stages of its planning process.

BOEM has identified factors to help it assess whether an area is appropriate for offshore wind energy development. BOEM plans to use the factors to identify “forecast areas” that have the best prospects for offshore wind.

BOEM has identified several factors that indicate “no-go” areas for offshore wind such as leases within parts of the National Park System, National Wildlife Refuge System, National Marine Sanctuary System or any National Monument.

Other no-go factors include areas that would conflict with Department of Defense needs and areas with shipping routes, according to BOEM.

On the other hand, positive factors include areas that haven’t previously been removed from possible offshore leasing, BOEM said.

Other favorable factors include areas that are at least 10 miles from the shore to preserve coastal views and areas no deeper than 60 meters, which could be economically infeasible for fixed-bottom structures, according to BOEM, which noted that floating wind farms could be built in deeper water.

BOEM said it would consider as a positive factor areas next to states with offshore wind incentives such as offshore renewable energy credits or offtake mechanisms. States with offshore wind incentives include Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey, according to BOEM.

Generally, state interest in offshore wind is a positive factor in assessing wind development areas, according to BOEM, which asked states to notify the agency if they want to see offshore wind development.

Other positive factors BOEM could use in assessing various areas include development interest and resource potential, according to the agency.

BOEM is taking comments until May 21 under docket BOEM-2018-0018.

New York, Massachusetts leases

Meanwhile, BOEM on April 6 said it was publishing a Call for Information and Nominations to obtain nominations from companies interested in commercial wind energy leases within the proposed area in the New York Bight. This region represents an area of shallow waters between Long Island (to the north and east) and the New Jersey coast (to the south and west).

BOEM will publish the Call for Information and Nominations in the Federal Register on April 11, which will include a 45-day public comment period. BOEM will accept nominations and comments until May 29, 2018.

Additional information is available here.

On the same day, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the proposed lease sale for two additional areas offshore Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing, totaling nearly 390,000 acres.

A Proposed Sale Notice for commercial leasing for wind power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Massachusetts will be published in the Federal Register on April 11, 2018, and will include a 60-day public comment period, Interior noted in a news release.

The document provides detailed information concerning the area available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details (e.g., criteria for evaluating competing bids and award procedures) and lease execution.