Offshore Wind Projects to Advance as U.S. Sets Auction

The U.S. will hold its first auction for offshore wind-energy development in federal waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island next month.

The sale of rights to develop wind power may lead to production of enough electricity for 1 million homes, the Interior Department said today in a notice on the auction that starts July 29.

“We are moving closer to tapping into the enormous potential offered by offshore wind to create jobs, increase our sustainability, and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said.

The Wind Energy Area covers 164,750 acres about 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coast. It will be sold in two blocks. Together, the areas could lead to the generation of almost 3,400 megawatts, according to the department.

“The competitive lease sale for two offshore wind farm sites off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts is a vital step forward for the offshore wind industry,” said the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, a Washington-based group that represents offshore wind developers and suppliers.

Developers interested in bidding include European energy companies Iberdrola SA and Electricity de France SA, and closely held developers Deepwater Wind LLC and Energy Management Inc., parent of Cape Wind Associates LLC, according to the department.

The U.S. previously awarded leases to Cape Wind and NRG Energy Inc. for offshore projects near Massachusetts and Delaware deemed non-competitive by Interior.

Cape Wind proposed a 468-megawatt offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Its pursuit of regulatory approval for more than a decade has encountered opposition from residents including members of the Kennedy family and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.

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