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Two more developers are jumping in the water to build offshore wind farms in Southern New England.
Offshore MW, the U.S. arm of a German company, and RES Americas, a subsidiary of a British conglomerate, were the top bidders in a federal auction on Thursday for two leases in Atlantic Ocean waters 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket that have the potential to support the generation of two gigawatts of wind power – the combined output of 300 or so of the latest-generation turbines.
The area is out of sight from shore and butts up against the area of federal waters in Rhode Island Sound where Providence-based Deepwater Wind won development rights for a wind farm of up to 200 turbines. The site of Deepwater’s test project – a five-turbine wind farm near Block Island – is located to the northwest of the waters that were on the auction block Thursday.
Offshore MW, of Princeton, N.J., and RES Americas, of Broomfield, Colo., were the only companies that participated in the auction for leasing rights in the 742,000 acres that make up what’s known as the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area.
Although 12 companies, including Deepwater, qualified to bid in the auction held by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the competition – and the winning bids – turned out to be modest because the waters in the area are deep and far from the nearest land and, thus, difficult to develop. While two of the four leases on the auction block sold, two others went unclaimed.
Abigail Ross Hopper, director of BOEM, said the area presents different challenges than those in the three other areas of federal waters on the East Coast’s Outer Cotinental Shelf that had previously been auctioned off, in Maryland, Virginia and Rhode Island Sound.
“We knew that developing an offshore wind facility in this area would be more expensive,” Hopper said in a news conference. “I’m encouraged that two very experienced developers chose to bid.”
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