On November 30, 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes, and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced the first ever competitive lease sales for renewable energy development for offshore wind projects in federal waters.  Described as part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to continue to expand domestic energy production, the proposed energy lease sales are for two separate Outer Continental Shelf offshore locations, described as “Wind Energy Areas.” 

The first Wind Energy Area is located offshore Virginia and consists of approximately 112,800 acres, which are located an estimated 23.5 nautical miles offshore.  The other Wind Energy Area is located offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island, consists of approximately 164,750 acres, and is located an estimated 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline.  This area will be auctioned as two separate leases: the North Zone and South Zone.  Combined, the Virginia and New England areas proposed for leasing are expected to be able to support more than 4,000 megawatts (MW) of wind generation, which is estimated to be enough electricity to power approximately 1.4 million homes.

Proposed Sale Notices were published in the Federal Register on Monday, December 3, 2012.  Comments on the proposed sales must be submitted electronically, or postmarked, by February 1, 2013.  This date is also the deadline for any potential bidders for the leases to submit the requisite qualification materials.  The time and day of the lease sale auctions will occur sometime in 2013, and will be published as Final Sale Notices in the Federal Register.

For more information on the Virginia Wind Energy Area Lease, click here.

For more information on the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Wind Energy Area Lease, click here.