Ocean wind farm site off Long Beach Island awaits federal auction
Credit: Pat Johnson | The SandPaper | Aug. 14, 2014 | thesandpaper.villagesoup.com ~~
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There are 37 days left to comment on the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management proposed sale of leases for offshore wind farms that includes nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey, with some lots just four nautical miles from Ship Bottom and continuing south along Long Beach Island and 45 miles to Avalon, Cape May County.
BOEM designated the New Jersey Wind Energy Area in consultation with members of the New Jersey Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which includes federal, state, tribal, and local government partners. BOEM proposes to auction the Wind Energy Area in two parts: the South Lease Area (160,480 acres) and the North Lease Area (183,353 acres). The Wind Energy Area begins about seven nautical miles off the coast from Atlantic City.
The North Lease area includes federal waters off Long Beach Island. According to the BOEM website, the northern parcel could support between 356 turbines (on towers) and 138 turbines. The 356 turbines could produce 1,780 megawatts; the 138 turbines could generate 690 megawatts.
Based on an analysis prepared for BOEM by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the New Jersey Wind Energy Area as currently delineated, if fully developed, may be able to support up to 3,400 megawatts of commercial wind generation, enough to power about 1.2 million homes.
On July 17, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Walter Cruickshank, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acting director, announced the proposed sale of the leases offshore New Jersey as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution.
“Responsible offshore wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, expand our domestic clean energy resources, and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Jewell. “Today’s announcement is a testament to the true collaboration and commitment from New Jersey for harnessing clean energy, and it reflects extensive consultations with a number of local communities and stakeholders to minimize conflicts and bring clarity and certainty to potential wind energy developers. We are another important step closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy off New Jersey’s shores – a resource that could power more than one million homes.”
“New Jersey has the offshore wind resources to be a national leader in clean energy generation, and this announcement is an important step in that direction,” said U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “A robust offshore wind industry in New Jersey will mean jobs and less pollution. This is truly welcome news.”
The announcement builds on the Interior Department’s work to start up a sustainable offshore wind program through its Smart from the Start wind energy initiative for the Atlantic coast. To date, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware), and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and another offshore Virginia). Competitive lease sales have generated about $5.4 million in high bids for about 277,550 acres in federal waters. BOEM expects to hold additional competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Maryland in August and Massachusetts in the coming year.
“The key to responsible offshore development is substantial stakeholder engagement to identify and address any concerns early in the process,” said Cruickshank. “Members of the New Jersey Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force have demonstrated leadership and foresight in making sure that the wind energy planning process considers input from many important stakeholders, including industry, environmental organizations, and the maritime community.”
The Proposed Sale Notice was published in the Federal Register on July 21, and includes a 60-day public comment period ending on Sept. 19. Comments received or postmarked by that date will be made available to the public and considered before publication of the Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale.
The end of the comment period also serves as the deadline for any companies wishing to participate in the lease sale to submit their qualification package, if they have not already done so. To be eligible to participate in the lease sale, each bidder must have been notified by BOEM that it is legally, technically and financially qualified by the time the Final Sale Notice is published.
Public comments for the Proposed Sale Notice may be submitted at www.regulations.gov under Docket No. BOEM-2014-0029. The mail address is Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 381 Elden St., HM1328, Herndon, VA, 20170-4817.
When the BOEM first floated the possibility of wind farm leases in April 2011, the agency received 11 indications of interest for parcels seven nautical miles from shore, extending 23 nautical miles seaward and from north to south approximately 45 miles between Barnegat Light and Avalon. The entire area is 418 nautical miles. (A nautical mile equals a minute of latitude on a nautical chart and equals 1,852 meters or 6,076 feet.)
The Rutgers University Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences completed a study on wind assessment. Their “Advanced Atmospheric Ocean Assessment Program Designed to Reduce the Risks Associated with Off Shore Wind Energy Applications” was completed in April 2013.
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