DOI Begins First 'Smart' Lease for Offshore Wind Power
March 30, 2011
Offshore wind turbines like these could harvest wind off the Delaware coast some day if the Bluewater project goes forward.
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) is beginning the process to offer the first commercial wind lease off Delaware's coast under DOI's "Smart from the Start" Atlantic Offshore Wind program. DOI and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) announced the decision on March 24 following a determination that there is no competitive interest for commercial wind energy development in this area of the Outer Continental Shelf. Under the expedited "Smart" process, officials can move ahead toward a non-competitive lease agreement with NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware for potential offshore wind development. Bluewater has proposed a phased wind turbine development 11 miles east of Dewey Beach, Delaware, and has an agreement to sell offshore power to the state's largest utility, Delmarva.
Several steps remain before a lease can be issued, including environmental reviews and consultation with other federal, state, local, and tribal organizations. Additionally, once a lease is issued, the developer will be required to submit a detailed construction and operation plan, which will be subject to further environmental review and public comment before any final decision is made on a proposed project.
To gauge competitive interest, BOEMRE published a request for interest in the Federal Register regarding wind energy development in federal waters offshore Delaware and received only one response from a qualified organization, namely Bluewater. Also, in response to public comments about the proposed venture, BOEMRE will collaborate with the U.S. Coast Guard to better quantify vessel activity in the proposed lease area. BOEMRE will soon publish in the Federal Register the decision to move forward with the noncompetitive leasing process as a Determination of No Competitive Interest, as required by offshore renewable energy regulations. See the DOI press release and the comments on Delaware project on the BOEMRE website.