The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management auctioned three leases off Massachusetts’ coast earmarked for the development of offshore wind farms, reaping a record-breaking $405-million, according to a Dec. 14 press release. The bureau sold commercial wind energy leases comprising nearly 390,000 acres, which are expected to support about 4.1 gigawatts of power. Out of 11 bidders, Equinor Wind US LLC, Mayflower Wind Energy LLC, and Vineyard Wind LLC emerged as the winners. The previous record, a $42 million sale for the lease area offshore New York in Dec. 2016, was completely shattered by the now highest grossing competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters.
Massachusetts has set a goal to procure 1.6 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2027 and recently selected Avangrid Renewables’ 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project. Recently, the bureau also issued a notice for commercial wind leasing proposals offshore California seeking to identify companies interested in leases within three call areas of about 687,823 acres. Comments on the notice are due by Jan. 27, 2019.
While the 30-megawatt Block Island wind farm off Rhode Island is the only offshore wind project currently operational in the U.S., the industry is picking up pace as states are pushing aggressive wind energy procurement goals. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut recently contracted for offshore wind capacity totaling 1.4 gigawatts. Avangrid is owned by Iberdrola SA. Equinor Wind US is a subsidiary of Equinor ASA. Mayflower Energy is a 50:50 joint venture between EDP Renewables Offshore North America LLC and Shell New Energies US LLC.