DOI Announces First Offshore Renewable Energy Lease Sale

June 12, 2013

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on June 4 announced that its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold the first-ever competitive lease sale for wind energy on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. The auction, scheduled to take place on July 31, will offer 164,750 acres offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts for commercial wind energy leasing. The area being auctioned is located 9.2 nautical miles south of the Rhode Island coastline.

The total lease area has the potential for an installed capacity of 3,395 megawatts, according to a report recently released by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This total could supply enough electricity to power more than 1 million homes.

BOEM issued a revised environmental assessment (EA) for commercial wind lease issuance within the Wind Energy Area offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The EA considers reasonable foreseeable environmental and socioeconomic impacts from issuing renewable energy leases. The EA also considers the impacts of conducting site characterization activities, such as surveys, as well as assessment activities such as the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys. 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 would not significantly impact the environment. See the DOI press release, the final sale notice in the Federal Register, and BOEM's Revised EA PDF.