Secretary Jewell signs first ever competitive offshore wind energy lease
September 19, 2013
Today commemorated the signing of the first offshore wind lease – offshore of the United States – for wind energy generation, that was competitively awarded by the Interior Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
It’s very, very exciting. This spot that we have out in the ocean, about 250 square miles, we think is the best offshore wind site in the United States. This is the first of its kind auction for one of these sites. So to be the winner is very exciting, but even more exciting is having the opportunity to develop what we think is going to be a groundbreaking renewable energy project.
The President has challenged us to bring online 20,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020. Offshore wind, for the United States, I think, is going to be an important part of meeting that goal, meeting that challenge by the President, to help us address climate change.
So the next big step is really to assess the site, to understand how much energy the site can produce. We have a rough idea, but we need to understand more specifically. So we’ll be measuring the wind, we’ll be sending vessels out to the site to assess the ocean floor, to understand exactly what kind of foundations we need to construct on the ocean floor. And then to study the biology and the habitats – the birds and fish and the whales – that effort will take a few years. That’s the environmental permitting process and the site assessment process. We’re anxious to start, we’re anxious to get boats out there and start that process.
It’s not only about clean energy; it’s about new industrial sectors, the employment and the economic benefits that come with it. For that reason, for example the state of Rhode Island partnered with Deepwater Wind on a joint development agreement to help promote the industry and to help bring all of the jobs that may be associated with this new industry to Rhode Island and to New England.
We will employ all sorts of people in building one of these projects. So everything from biologists to divers, from machinists to electricians to iron-workers to boat captains and tug captains, people who do all the work offshore, people who do all the work onshore – there’s a whole chain of folks who are involved in bringing a project like this to life, starting right now.
It’s an extremely proud moment for me and for the staff of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. It was a lot of work to get to this point, a lot of work working with stakeholders, working with the states, to help define the area and reduce potential for conflict. We did that successfully and it was all of that up front effort that led to such a successful sale and is eventually going to lay the foundation for new wind energy and clean energy offshore of the U.S.