MassLive: “Feds award 3 more offshore wind leases off Massachusetts coast; Massachusetts has committed to 3.2 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035.”
December 14, 2018, By Mary C. Serreze –
Following 32 rounds of sealed bidding, three more federal offshore wind area leases off the coast of Massachusetts were awarded on Friday.
The winners, announced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, are Equinor Wind, Mayflower Wind Energy, and Vineyard Wind.
The bidders will pay around $135 million a piece for the privilege of holding 33-year development rights in federal waters south of Cape Cod — a record combined $405 million.
The areas are on the outer Continental Shelf of the Atlantic Ocean — and unlike the ill-fated Cape Wind, which officially died one year ago — are not visible from the mainland. Equinor, of Norway, already lights a million European homes with wind power. Mayflower is a new partnership between Shell and EDP Renewables. Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, is a partnership between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables.
Eleven companies competed in the auction, and the lease payments will boost federal revenue. To date, the BOEM has awarded 16 commercial offshore wind leases off every eastern seaboard state from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
“Today’s biggest winners are the American workers who will help build and operate these wind farms, and the consumers who will soon have access to a new large-scale source of clean, reliable electricity,” said Nancy Sopko of the American Wind Energy Association.
The new acquisition provides Equinor with a “strong strategic position,” the company said, and “gives us a foothold to engage in the Massachusetts and wider New England market, a region notable for its strong commitment to offshore wind.”
Equinor already holds a lease are off New York, which it procured in 2016.
Vineyard Wind said it is excited to expand its New England presence, and “grateful to the BOEM for working for many years with stakeholders — including the fishing industry, environmentalists, wildlife experts, and local communities.”
Vineyard Wind has a head start, because in May it won utility contracts to supply Massachusetts utilities with 800 megawatts of offshore wind. The company plans that plant within a separate 160,000 acre federal area 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
Massachusetts has set an offshore wind goal of 3.2 gigawatts by 2035, enough to power 20 percent of the commonwealth’s homes.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced the Massachusetts auction in October.
“If fully developed, the wind auction could support approximately 4.1 gigawatts of power to supply nearly 1.5 million homes,” Zinke said at the time. “This is just one example of the importance of fostering wind energy as a new American industry.”