NARRAGANSETT – The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will auction off leases for offshore wind energy projects on July 31, with Providence-based Deepwater Wind one of nine energy companies that have qualified for the two blocks to be leased, according Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council Grover Fugate.
“It’s good to see that there is a lot of interest and some of the companies are international,” Fugate said in an update of the offshore leasing process at a June 20 meeting of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan at the University of Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay campus.
“It would be beneficial for Rhode Island if Deepwater Wind got a lease. There will construction and operations jobs,” said Fugate.
Deepwater Wind has signed a lease with the Quonset Business Park to base its construction and staging operation there.
“There will also be research and development and that would give Rhode Island an opportunity to plug in as that develops, “said Fugate.
The selection of the energy company, or companies, for the leases in what’s been designated the Area of Mutual Interest by Rhode Island and Massachusetts beginning about 15 miles offshore won’t be based on simply the highest bid, said Fugate.
The federal government has developed a multi-factor criteria for the selection process.
The two offshore blocks to be leased are three-square- miles each, said Fugate.
After the leases for the first two blocks are awarded, there will be a process of assessment before final production is approved. The earliest energy is likely to be produced from the offshore leases is in four years, although required power purchase agreements could extend that estimated time frame, he said.
Deepwater Wind’s planned five-turbine Block Island wind energy project is currently being reviewed by the Coastal Resources Management Council and several federal agencies, said Fugate.
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