New England getting first US offshore wind farm

June 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Beach, Welfleet MA (© Jeffrey Coolidge, Photodisc, Getty Images)A milestone was passed this week in ongoing government and commercial efforts develop renewable energy resources.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, announced the feds will auction leases for offshore wind farms along the New England coast in an area about 9 nautical miles off Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The bureau will auction the nearly 165,000-acre area as two separate leases starting at the end of July. A report issued last month by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the two so-called Wind Energy Areas could produce more than 3,400 megawatts — enough energy to power more than a million homes.

At least nine businesses have expressed interest in taking part in the auction, including the Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables (IBDRY), Boston company Energy Management Inc. and Ireland’s Mainstream Renewable Power.

BOEM director Tommy Beaudreau says those companies have been screened to ensure they’re legally, technically and financially qualified to take part.

“They represent pioneers in a new energy frontier as participants in America’s first offshore wind energy auction this July,” he said in a press statement. “We congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to overseeing a fair and competitive leasing process.”

So far, the U.S. has no offshore wind farms, although several are currently under development. The federal government has been working to speed offshore renewable energy projects by improving coordination among state, local and federal partners.

“We are moving closer to tapping into the enormous potential offered by offshore wind to create jobs, increase our sustainability and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,” Secretary Jewell said. “As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are also working to ensure that America leads the world in developing the energy of the future.”

Alternative energy advocates say wind power, especially along America’s coastline, needs additional development.

“That’s just a fraction of what we could be tapping into with this clean energy resource just off our shores,” Nancy Sopko, with the conservation group Oceana, said during an interview with The Associated Press.

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