Thursday, January 24, 2019

Interior Plans Would Boost Mass., NY Offshore Wind

By Michael Kuser

Offshore wind got a boost on two fronts Friday when U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced two new proposed offshore wind leases for Massachusetts, while the Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management issued a call for commercial interest in four wind energy areas in the New York Bight.

“The Trump administration supports an all-of-the-above energy policy and using every tool available to achieve American energy dominance,” Zinke said.

BOEM on Apr. 11 will publish in the Federal Register a proposed sale notice for the Massachusetts leases and a call for information and nominations on the New York areas.

BOEM Ryan Zinke Offshore Wind

Offshore Wind Platform | Deepwater Wind

Massachusetts later this month will select one of three bids received in December for up to 800 MW of offshore wind energy projects, with contracts to be submitted at the end of July. The bidders include Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Orsted and Eversource Energy; Deepwater Wind; and Vineyard Wind, a joint venture of Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.

All three developers have purchased renewable energy leases off Martha’s Vineyard from BOEM. (See Mass. Receives Three OSW Proposals, Including Storage, Tx.)

OSW, Yes; Offshore Drilling, No

The proposed lease areas offshore from Massachusetts total 460 square nautical miles.

Interior Counselor for Energy Policy Vincent DeVito said in a statement that the federal government had worked “with a broad community of engaged stakeholders, including fishing communities,” to identify “areas that can support a large-scale commercial wind project, while minimizing the impacts to fishing habitats, marine species and other uses” of the outer continental shelf.

BOEM Offshore Wind Ryan Zinke

The proposed “call areas” being considered in the New York Bight — a region of the Atlantic Ocean between Long Island and the New Jersey coast — are named Fairways North, Fairways South, Hudson North and Hudson South, and comprise 2,047 square nautical miles.

BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement that the bureau and stakeholders will look at the potential impacts of offshore wind in New York.

“For example, commercial and recreational fishing are important cultural and economic activities that must be considered,” Cruickshank said.

New York in January released its master plan for 2,400 MW of offshore wind development, which includes an initial phase of solicitations this year and next for at least 800 MW. (See NY Offshore Wind Plan Faces Tx Challenge.)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Friday welcoming BOEM’s support in advancing the state’s offshore wind plan but added he remains “deeply concerned by the federal government’s proposal to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling.”

“New York has formally requested to be excluded from this offshore drilling plan, and we believe offshore wind is a better direction for our economy, for our environment and for our energy future,” Cuomo said.