New York Offshore Wind Acreage Up For Grabs

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has announced the proposed lease sale of 81,130 acres offshore New York for commercial wind energy leasing.

The proposed lease area, approximately 11 miles south of Long Island, is identical to the New York Wind Energy Area, which Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) identified earlier this year in consultation with members of its New York Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force.

“This is another major step in broadening our nation’s energy portfolio, harnessing power near population centers on the East Coast,” Secretary Jewell said.

“Offshore wind power marks a new frontier in renewable energy development, creating the path for sustainable electricity generation; job creation, and strengthening our nation’s economic competitiveness. I am optimistic about New York’s renewable energy future, as we work toward harnessing the enormous resource potential of wind energy offshore the Empire State.”

A ”Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore New York” will be published in the Federal Register on 6 June, 2016, and will include a 60-day public comment period. This document provides detailed information concerning the area available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details, and lease execution. Comments received electronically or postmarked by the end of public comment period will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of the Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale.

The end of the PSN 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. To date, seven companies have qualified to participate in a future auction for the New York Wind Energy Area. Companies planning to submit a qualification package are strongly encouraged to submit as early as possible during the comment period to ensure adequate time for processing.

BOEM will host a public seminar in late June or July in New York City to describe the auction format, explain the auction rules and demonstrate the auction process through meaningful examples. It will be followed by a public meeting on BOEM’s planning and leasing efforts regarding New York offshore wind energy activities.

In addition to the PSN, BOEM will publish an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the same day for a 30-day public comment period. Comments received electronically or postmarked within that period will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of the revised EA. The EA considers potential impacts associated with issuing a lease, including those from conducting surveys, and approving the installation of resource assessment facilities in the area. BOEM will also consider these comments in determining whether to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact, or conduct additional analysis under NEPA.

BOEM will hold four public meetings in June to provide an overview of the EA findings and offer additional opportunities for public comments. BOEM’s public meetings will be held at the following locations: Long Branch, N.J., on 20 June, Hempstead, N.Y., 21 June, West Hampton Beach, N.Y., 22 June, and Narragansett, RI, 23 June.

“This is a great day for New York and our country as we continue to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio,” BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said. “The proposed lease area could make substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply and assist local and state governments – including New York City – in achieving their renewable energy goals. In the meantime, we will continue to work with New York Renewable Energy Task Force, local communities and key stakeholders to reduce conflicts and bring clarity to potential wind energy developers.”

To date, BOEM has awarded 11 commercial offshore wind leases, including nine through the competitive lease sale process; two offshore New Jersey, two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia. These lease sales have generated approximately USD 16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.