BOEM to Auction Nearly 165,000 Acres Offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for Wind Energy Development in July
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Tommy P. Beaudreau today announced that BOEM will hold the first-ever competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The auction, scheduled to take place on July 31, will offer 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing.
“After careful review, BOEM has determined that these companies are legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale,” said Director Beaudreau. “They represent pioneers in a new energy frontier as participants in America's first offshore wind energy auction this July. We congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to overseeing a fair and competitive leasing process.”
The two lease areas available for auction are identical to those announced in the Proposed Sale Notice, which was published in the Federal Register on Dec. 3, 2012, for a 60-day public comment period. BOEM carefully considered public comments during this time prior to developing the Final Sale Notice. The comments, as well as BOEM's responses, can be viewed on BOEM's website by clicking here.
BOEM will publish the Final Sale Notice in the Federal Register on June 5. In addition to the list of eligible bidders, the notice contains specific information pertaining to the areas available for leasing, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating bids, award procedures, lease execution and other information. The Final Sale Notice can be previewed by clicking here.
BOEM also has made available a revised environmental assessment (EA) for commercial wind lease issuance and related activities within the Wind Energy Area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The EA considers reasonable foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing renewable energy leases and conducting site characterization (e.g., surveys) and assessment (e.g., installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys) activities in the designated offshore area.
As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM issued a Finding of No Significant Impact, which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the commercial wind lease issuance and related activities would not significantly impact the environment.
“Today's finding follows extensive collaboration with our federal, tribal, state and local government partners,” said Director Beaudreau. “With their help, we have successfully engaged key stakeholders, including industry, commercial fishers and environmental organizations, to address potential conflicts early in the process. Now, after months of hard work, we are ready to auction a large area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts that is well suited for commercial wind energy development with minimal impacts to the environment and other important uses,” said Beaudreau.
The revised EA addresses comments received in response to an environmental assessment published in July 2012 for a 30-day public review period. Those comments can be viewed at www.regulations.gov by searching Docket ID BOEM-2012-0048. The revised EA and Finding of No Significant Impact can be accessed on BOEM's website by clicking here.
For more information on what's going on offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts, visit BOEM's website.
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