DOI Announces Five Exploratory Leases for Offshore Wind Energy

Calling it a major step forward in President Obama’s new energy frontier, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has issued five exploratory leases for renewable wind energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore New Jersey and Delaware.

“This is tremendous news for New Jersey and I thank Secretary Salazar and the Obama Administration for issuing these leases which are so critical to getting the development of our offshore wind turbine projects underway,” New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine said. “New Jersey’s Outer Continental Shelf is a resource that holds a great promise for our energy independence and should be considered a haven for the clean, renewable and environmentally friendly energy that wind power provides. This is a major step for the State in meeting its goal of 1000 megawatts by 2013 and 3000 megawatts by 2020.”

Secretary Salazar issued the exploratory leases, the first of their kind ever issued by the Federal Government, to Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy, Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey, Deepwater Wind LLC and Bluewater Wind Delaware. The leases were developed under an Interim Policy and authorize data gathering activities, allowing for the construction of meteorological towers on the Outer Continental Shelf from six to 18 miles offshore to collect site-specific data on wind speed, intensity, and direction.

The data collected under these leases will be shared with Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) and used to inform and support future commercial renewable energy projects, such as wind turbine farms, to help coastal States meet mandated renewable energy portfolio standards.

The following companies are receiving the exploratory leases for meteorological towers:

New Jersey is actively pursing the development of offshore wind energy through various state initiatives. In October 2008, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities established a meteorological tower reimbursement program, which provides US $4 million per company to help expedite the development of offshore wind.

In Delaware, Delmarva Power signed a power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind for up to 200 MW in June 2008, and the pact was ratified by the state in July 2008. Delaware’s average offshore winds have the potential to produce 5,286 MW.

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