Deepwater Wind (Providence, R.I., USA) announced on July 31 that it has been selected as the provisional winner of two offshore wind energy sites located in the federal waters off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts along the U.S. East Coast.
A competitive lease auction — the first-ever auction held in the United States for commercial offshore wind development — was held by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for two parcels, totaling more than 164,000 acres, in BOEM’s Wind Energy Area on the Outer Continental Shelf roughly 17 miles south of Rhode Island, between Block Island, R.I., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
Deepwater Wind plans to develop the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), a utility-scale wind farm of up to 200 turbines with a regional transmission system linking Long Island, N.Y., to southeastern New England.
Deepwater Wind’s winning bid of $3.8 million for the two sites came in the eleventh round of the competition. Deepwater Wind previously paid a $900,000 deposit to participate in the auction, with the remainder of the bid amount to be paid in the coming months when the official lease is signed for the sites. In addition, Deepwater Wind will pay the federal government annual rent payments of approximately $500,000 beginning this year, until a wind farm is operational on the site. Once the wind farm is operational, Deepwater Wind is obligated to pay the federal government an annual royalty fee based on the value of the energy produced.
“This is an enormous step forward for the industry. This is the best site for offshore wind in the United States, bar none,” says Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “Our Deepwater Wind Energy Center Project will produce clean power and jobs for an entire region. It’s very exciting.”
DWEC is the largest offshore wind farm ever planned in the U.S., located in deeper ocean waters and farther from shore than any other project. At a capacity of up to 1,000 MW and with the ability to provide reliable, clean energy to multiple power markets, DWEC is an important step in moving the United States to a clean- energy future. Because of the economies of scale and the continuing maturity of the American offshore wind industry, DWEC’s power price will be competitive with traditional fossil fuel power and lower than the first generation of offshore wind farms.
Construction could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018. DWEC will produce enough energy to power approximately 350,000 homes – and displace more than 1.7 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Most of DWEC’s turbines will be located 20 to 25 miles (32.2 to 40.2 km) from the nearest landfall — said to be virtually invisible from shore. No turbine will be located any closer than roughly 13 miles/21 km from land.
Deepwater Wind is also actively developing the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, about 3 miles/4.8 km off the coast of Block Island, R.I. The permits for this demonstration-scale wind farm are currently under review by state and federal agencies. Construction activities are expected to start in 2013, with the wind farm in service by 2015. That project remains on target to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.