US Planning Largest Wind-Energy Auction Off Massachusetts

The U.S. Interior Department is planning the nation’s largest competitive auction for offshore wind projects, 742,000 acres off Massachusetts that may generate as much as 5 gigawatts of electricity.

The area will be divided into four zones and may produce enough power for 1.4 million homes, the department said today in an e-mailed statement. Twelve companies, including Fishermen’s Energy LLC, Deepwater Wind LLC and Iberdrola SA, are qualified to bid on the areas about 14 miles off the coast. The auction is scheduled for Jan. 29.

“This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind-energy projects,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in the statement.

The department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has awarded seven leases — two through non-competitive bids — for projects in the Atlantic Ocean, including Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound. Five competitive sales for more than 357,000 acres off Maryland, Virginia and New England have generated more than $14 million.

BOEM in 2015 plans to hold another competitive auction for lease areas off the coast of New Jersey, where last week the state’s Board of Utilities rejected a proposal for a wind farm near Atlantic City.

The U.S. has no utility-scale offshore wind installations, and development has lagged elsewhere, including in China. Offshore wind energy costs about twice as much to produce as power from coal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Copyright 2014 Bloomberg

Lead image: Offshore wind via Shutterstock

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