The U.S. government has scheduled an auction for the rights to lease two areas of federal ocean space off New Jersey for offshore wind energy development. The auction, to be held November 9, 2015, will be the fifth competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the outer continental shelf.
Under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Department of the Interior has responsibility for managing use and development of the federally controlled outer continental shelf and the waters above it. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management exercises key functions in support of this role, managing resource evaluation, planning, and site leasing for energy activities ranging from oil and natural gas exploration and production to hydrokinetic, offshore wind, and other renewable ocean energy projects.
Since early in the Obama administration, BOEM has worked to offer leases to federal ocean sites for offshore wind development or related activities. To date, BOEM has awarded seven offshore wind site leases through competitive lease sales, plus two more commercial wind leases offshore New Jersey awarded through earlier interim policies. BOEM's competitive processes have generated over $14.5 million in high bids for over 700,000 acres in
federal waters off states including Massachusetts, Maryland, Virginia, and Rhode Island.
Since at least 2009, BOEM has been involved in efforts to lease sites off New Jersey for offshore wind development, including multiple task force meetings, a 2011 Call for Information and Nominations – Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore New Jersey, and a 2014 Proposed Sale Notice. That notice described a 343,833-acre Wind Energy Area split in two parts, known for leasing as OCS-A 0498 and OCS-A 0499:
BOEM has now announced that it will publish a Final Sale Notice setting a commercial lease sale for November 9, 2015, for the Wind Energy Area offshore New Jersey. Similar in format to other recent BOEM offshore wind site auctions, the New Jersey sale will include consideration of both monetary factors (the bid) and nonmonetary factors (i.e., whether a bidder has obtained a Power Purchase Agreement or New
Jersey Offshore Renewable Energy Certificate award).
No offshore wind projects are in commercial operation in the U.S., although Deepwater Wind is currently constructing its Block Island Wind Farm in state waters offshore Rhode Island.