New England getting first US offshore wind farm

The federal government will auction leases for 2 sites with the potential to power a million homes.

By Bruce Kennedy Jun 6, 2013 10:14AM

Beach, Welfleet MA (© Jeffrey Coolidge, Photodisc, Getty Images)A milestone was passed this week in ongoing government and commercial efforts develop renewable energy resources.

On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, along with the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, announced the feds will auction leases for offshore wind farms along the New England coast in an area about 9 nautical miles off Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The bureau will auction the nearly 165,000-acre area as two separate leases starting at the end of July. A report issued last month by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says the two so-called Wind Energy Areas could produce more than 3,400 megawatts -- enough energy to power more than a million homes.

At least nine businesses have expressed interest in taking part in the auction, including the Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables (IBDRY), Boston company Energy Management Inc. and Ireland's Mainstream Renewable Power.

BOEM director Tommy Beaudreau says those companies have been screened to ensure they're legally, technically and financially qualified to take part.

"They represent pioneers in a new energy frontier as participants in America's first offshore wind energy auction this July," he said in a press statement. "We congratulate them on their entrepreneurial spirit and look forward to overseeing a fair and competitive leasing process."

So far, the U.S. has no offshore wind farms, although several are currently under development. The federal government has been working to speed offshore renewable energy projects by improving coordination among state, local and federal partners.

"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 in this new energy frontier," Secretary Jewell said. "As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are also working to ensure that America leads the world in developing the energy of the future."

Alternative energy advocates say wind power, especially along America's coastline, needs additional development.

"That's just a fraction of what we could be tapping into with this clean energy resource just off our shores," Nancy Sopko, with the conservation group Oceana, said during an interview with The Associated Press.

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Jun 6, 2013 2:59PM
This would be made all that much better if more US firms were competing for these lease rights. This is great news with gas prices going up even though we import less than 50% of our oil now and the US is now the #3 oil producer in the world. All that drill baby drill mantra did was put more money in the tanks of big oil. Trickle down never has worked. End the oil subsidies!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 6, 2013 2:49PM
It's interesting that they are able to do this now. About 10 years ago, people on long island voted against having the wind farm off the shore because they didn't want lights from the windmills to detract from their views of the ocean, at night.

I guess now they can live with a few red lights in the distance along the horizon. Ah, progress.

Jun 6, 2013 3:25PM
Rather have wind farms than oil rigs...
Not every place has the sustained winds necessary for these things to operate.
Now we also need to develop something to take advantage of wave/tide energy.Know there are a few folks working on it.

Jun 6, 2013 2:56PM
Finally, progress in the pursuit of environmentally friendly power generation. By the way, where are Nikola Tesla's papers?
Jun 6, 2013 3:30PM
So did the old time big money families get exempted in front of their precious Martha's Vineyard mansions again?  After all, its OK to spoil everyone else's vistas but not THEIRS!
Jun 6, 2013 3:47PM
Who gave the government permission to sell anything offshore?
Jun 6, 2013 3:08PM

“New England getting first US offshore wind farm”

You can grow wind on a farm? Offshore to boot?


Jun 6, 2013 3:12PM
finally the fed is catching up!!!!  I read a story earlier this week where a prototype offshore wind turbine is being installed and was designed and built by a group of professors and students at the university of maine, orono.  again, as maine goes, so does the nation!!!!  except this time its a good thing and they're not miscalling a presidential race! lol!!  yes, I am originally from southern maine, but currently reside in southern Arizona, so it is heartening to me when I see my beloved state doing something good for our country!!!!  finally we can be known for something other than lobster!
Jun 6, 2013 4:03PM
The wind generation companies get 4 times the government sudsidies as the oil companies do, so to say you are good with it as long as it doen,t cost tax payers is not going to happen. This type of energy is to expensive to survive on it's own at this time. Maybe some day it will, but not anytime soon. From recent articles I have read I don't think the people promoting wind farms care how many birds they are killing as long as companies like Solendra get their cut of the tax money. This type of energy has been around since the 40's and has never been sustainable.
PS WIll the world's governments be able to purchase them like our Senate aka Feinstein led our natural resources to be extraced by the same?  Who will be able to bid?  Do you realize that the largest Texas and US oil refinery is owned by the Saudis?  And the Saudis(the so-called hijackers of WTC) have been given full access without any obstruction to the US with the 27 Jet Fighters SOLD to them by this administration?  Which is it: the hijackers were Saudies or they were not?  In which case: why are the Muslims being provided US Sovereignty like the Mexican Federales in Missouri and the Communist Chinese at Long Beach?  Why isn't the media discussing this? 
Jun 6, 2013 4:04PM
Hey..... Can someone who is smarter than me (which is all of you by the way) answer a question. Years ago when we put dams on rivers to generate power, no one though much of it. While it is worth it, we have found that disrupting river flows has some downside. Years from now will we be saying the same thing regarding disrupting wind current patterns?
Jun 6, 2013 3:44PM

About time wind farms, solar farms and further experiments with other forms of renewable energy.

How about inline hydro dams or maybe tidal energy or hydrogen fuel from water.

To build the atomic bomb the government rounded up and sequestered our top scientist of that time to build weapons of mass destruction, well lets do the same thing with renewable energy. And other environmental and conservational issues. Lets take science and innovation to take care of humanity not to make the greedy elite richer, but to enrich the lives of all and to turn the tide of pollution on planet earth.

To borrow from JFK

Ask not what the planet and humanity can do for you but what we can do for the planet and humanity.

Perhaps redesigning our communities were housing and transportation are more efficient and jobs are created were all can have homes and secure futures.

Without giving up personal freedom or trampling on the constitution.

Jun 6, 2013 3:56PM
Has anyone else noticed in those BP ads on tv and radio they try to make you think they just jumped in and joined the fightwhen oil started leaking from that well in the Gulf,instead of admitting it was their blunder that caused the damn thing in the first place.
Jun 6, 2013 7:42PM

First U.S. offshore wind farm?  I think not - Kodiak Island, AK, was up and running in 2009.  While our government has more than its' fair share of faults and mistakes, our media does too.  Another fine example of two giants misleading the public.  Time to get it right people!!!



Jun 6, 2013 3:44PM
That does seem pretty extensive amount of energy for a wind farm, but not sure of how much disaster planning will be and if they can sustain hurricane/tsnami. Transmission lines to the coast and to the closest grid can be costly also depending on how far out the farms are. I am all for renewable energy, but I am not going to encourage emptying our pockets and possibly lose it all on a investment that does not have good return. I am more for a consumer variety or maybe power companies lease home self-sustaining systems and lease them out like communcations companies do.
Jun 6, 2013 4:07PM
Trickle down does work.....but you are right.  END THE SUBSIDIES!
Jun 6, 2013 4:41PM

End Oil Subsidies? The subsidies paid are not a tiny speck on a nats **** when compared to the total dollars generated by the oil industry. You could take away the 5 billion a year subsidy and it wouldn make a difference to the companies or prices you pay.


Just political BS,,,I dont think ANY company should get a subsidy, and I am a farmer. If companies cant make it and turn a profit then let them fail.


These offshore wind farms will not turn a profit in our lifetime, maintaining turbines is bad enough onshore, then you throw in the problems with weather and a salt enviroment and its doomed

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