|Onshore wind turbines near the Massachusetts coast.|
While today's lease awards are a step forward for U.S. offshore wind, neither lease awarded today grants the right to construct or operate an offshore wind project. Rather, these leases have a preliminary term of one year, to allow the lessee time to prepare a Site Assessment Plan describing the installation of meteorological towers and buoys and other activities the lessee plans to perform to assess local wind resources and ocean conditions. Site Assessment Plans must be submitted to BOEM for review and approval.
Once BOEM approves a Site Assessment Plan, the lessee will then have up to five years in which to prepare and submit to BOEM a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) providing detailed information for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease. After BOEM receives a Construction and Operations Plan from a lessee, BOEM will conduct an environmental review of and public comment period for the proposed project. If BOEM approves a Construction and Operations Plan, the lessee will have an operations term of 25 years.
Lease OCS-A 0502 (248,015 acres) and Lease OCS-A 0503 (140,554 acres) did not receive bids in today's auction. As shown on a BOEM nautical chart of the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area, these lease areas are generally farther from the Massachusetts coast than the areas awarded through today's auction.
BOEM touts its offshore wind leasing program as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. The auction held today by BOEM represents the nation’s fourth competitive lease sale for renewable energy sites in federal waters. Including this auction, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in high bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters. Previous auctions covered sites off Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Virginia, and Maryland. BOEM expects to hold another competitive lease sale offshore the New Jersey coast in 2015.