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Company to transfer Massachusetts offshore wind lease to Danish company

NEW BEDFORD – One of the two companies to buy a federal wind power lease in waters off the Massachusetts coast in January announced intentions Tuesday to transfer the lease and development project to a Denmark energy company.

RES America Development paid $281,285 in January for a wind power development lease spanning 187,523 acres, or about 293 square miles, in the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area south of Martha’s Vineyard. RES America said Tuesday that it will transfer that lease to DONG Energy of Denmark, pending approval from the federal Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) which conducted the Jan. 29 lease auction.

“DONG Energy is a market leader in the offshore sector and RES will be drawing upon our nearly 20 years of onshore wind experience in the U.S., together with our 15 years of European offshore wind experience, to support this important new development,” Glen Davis, CEO of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, the parent company of RES America, said in a Tuesday news release.

The release also quoted Samuel Leupold, executive vice president of wind power at DONG Energy.

“The U.S. is an interesting market for offshore wind, with the potential to become a significant area for future development,” Leupold said. “We already have a number of post-2020 projects in our pipeline in northwestern Europe that we’ll continue to develop. With the takeover of the offshore wind development project in the U.S., we will broaden our geographical scope and follow the market potential outside of our current focus area.”

Wind power development in the lease area could generate more than 1,000 megawatts from turbines to be built after 2020, RES America said.

In a DONG Energy news release, Leupold said: “We have constructed around one third of the offshore wind capacity in the world and we are looking forward to bringing our skills and experience to this new market.

“We are excited to work constructively with regulators, potential suppliers and contractors as all other stakeholders to establish a successful offshore wind industry in Massachusetts,” Leupold continued.

New Jersey-based OffshoreMW also bought a wind power development lease in the January auction, paying the minimum price of $1 an acre for a lease spanning 166,886 acres in federal waters about 12 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Two other lease areas available in the BOEM auction did not receive any bids.

Tuesday’s announcement could be another indicator of the shifting currents in Massachusetts’ slowly developing offshore wind industry. Hopes for the industry helped spur funding and construction of the $113 million Marine Commerce Terminal on New Bedford’s waterfront, which was designed to serve as a staging area for offshore wind development.

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which manages the terminal, canceled its $4.5 million lease agreement with Cape Wind Associates last month, following setbacks for the would-be wind power developer.