October 18 (Renewables Now) - The Trump Administration made three announcements on Wednesday that bring positive signals to the US offshore wind industry, both on the East and West Coasts.
First, US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke unveiled that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an auction for nearly 390,000 acres (157,800 hectares) offshore Massachusetts on December 13, 2018. According to the Secretary, the particular area can accommodate about 4.1 GW of capacity if fully developed. A total of 19 companies have qualified to take part in the process. Details will be published on October 19, 2018.
At the same time, BOEM will issue a Call for Information and Nominations to identify companies interested in commercial wind energy leases in California. The call concerns three areas off the central and northern part of the state, including 85 whole Outer Continental Shelf blocks and 573 partial blocks. Together, they comprise some 1,073 square miles (2,779 sq km). The process includes a 100-day public comment period closing on January 27, 2019 and could lead to the first West Coast offshore wind auction.
Last but not least, BOEM will issue a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) related to the 90-MW South Fork wind project off Rhode Island. If the plan is cleared, the developer, namely Deepwater Wind, will be able to erect up to 15 turbines and connect them to a grid in East Hampton, New York. A 20-year pay-for-performance power purchase agreement (PPA) for this particular project was approved by the Board of Trustees of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) in January 2017.
The South Fork-related notice will have a 30-day public comment period closing on November 19.
“I'm very bullish on offshore wind, and harnessing this renewable resource is a big part of the Trump Administration's made in America energy strategy,” Zinke stated.
Presently, the US has just one operating offshore wind farm -- the 30-MW Block Island park off Rhode Island that entered into service in December 2016. According to a report from August, the US offshore wind industry has accumulated a pipeline of projects totalling 25.46 GW.