U.S. Interior Department OKs lease for wind off Delaware coast

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have leased more than 96,000 acres off the coast of Delaware for commercial wind energy development.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) director Tommy P. Beaudreau have announced that BOEM has reached agreement on a lease for commercial wind energy development in federal waters that covers 96,430 acres approximately 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.

This is the first lease completed under Interior’s “Smart from the Start” approach to facilitate environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) by identifying wind energy areas in a coordinated, focused approach with extensive environmental analysis, public review and large-scale planning.

“Delaware has remarkable offshore wind potential, and harnessing this clean, domestic energy resource will create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” says Salazar. “The Administration has implemented a true all-of-the-above approach to American energy, with renewable energy from sources like wind and solar doubling since the President took office, while at the same time domestic oil and gas production has increased each year, with domestic oil production currently higher than any time in almost a decade and domestic natural gas production at its highest level ever.”

The lease grants NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC the exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of wind energy development in the lease area. The company may submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP) with a proposal to conduct site assessment activities, such as the installation of a meteorological tower or meteorological buoy, and/or submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to propose construction of the actual wind facility and cabling to shore.

In its original project nomination, NRG Bluewater proposed a 450-MW project offshore Delaware, with estimates that the project could generate enough power to supply electricity for over 100,000 homes. This estimate could change after NRG undergoes additional planning and survey work, and submits its COP to BOEM, which will assess the potential plans based on environmental, technical and other factors before granting approval for construction.

The lease area, which is comprised of 11 full OCS blocks and 16 partial blocks, has been located to avoid existing uses of the OCS offshore Delaware, including but not limited to major shipping lanes into and out of Delaware Bay, a proposed vessel anchorage ground and a munitions disposal area.

On public lands and waters, Interior recently eclipsed a major milestone by meeting the President’s goal of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of large-scale renewable power by the end of the year. Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids.

A map of the lease area can be found on the BOEM website at www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/State-Activities/Delaware.aspx.