The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has made two major steps recently in the development of offshore wind energy projects in federal waters off the coasts of New York and California.
On Wednesday, BOEM announced its first step toward potential leasing for commercial wind energy development off California, completing an initial review of an unsolicited lease request from Trident Winds, LLC to develop a floating wind farm offshore Morro Bay, California. BOEM’s receipt of the request and determination that Trident Winds meets all the criteria for holding an offshore wind energy lease is considered the first step in a leasing process that will include environmental analysis and extensive stakeholder engagement. As apposed to wind turbines that are fixed to the seafloor, floating turbine platforms like what are anchored.
The news from the west coast comes less than a week after BOEM made a major step towards potential commercial wind energy development offshore New York by defining a wind energy area about 11 miles south of Long Island. The area, which covers approximately 81,130 acres, is based on a 2011 proposal by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) to install up to 194 wind turbines that would generate about a 700 MW of power for Long Island and New York City.
“New York has tremendous offshore wind potential, and today’s milestone marks another important step in the President’s strategy to tap clean, renewable energy from the Nation’s vast wind and solar resources,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell stated. “We will continue to work with the State and local stakeholders through a collaborative effort as we determine what places have the highest potential and lowest conflict to harness the enormous wind energy potential off the Atlantic seaboard.”
Before issuing a lease, BOEM will complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine potential impacts, and will also consider the impacts of conducting surveys and installing resource assessment facilities in the area. The agency may then move forward with steps to hold a competitive lease sale for commercial wind development offshore New York and California.
To date, BOEM has awarded eleven commercial wind energy leases in federal waters off the Atlantic coast, including nine leases issued as a result of competitive lease sales (two leases in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore New Jersey, two offshore Maryland, and one offshore Virginia).