Offshore Wind Coming of Age

Eight competitive lease sales for offshore wind acreage have generated almost half a billion in revenue for the U.S. federal treasury. A dozen official leases have been awarded, with three more to be awarded following anti-competitive review on the heels the sale of three leases offshore Massachusetts in mid-December.

Approximately 1.4 million offshore acres are under lease, and following the award of the Massachusetts leases that number will jump up to nearly 2 million. Two construction and operations plans are under consideration, and seven site assessments are underway.

For Jim Bennett, chief of the Office of Renewable Energy Programs for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, this signals a healthy start for an offshore renewables program that is scarcely a decade old.

The eighth lease sale for acreage offshore Massachusetts, concluded December 14, 2018, drew winning bids of $135 million from each of three companies. Equinor Wind U.S. bid on OCS-A-0520, Mayflower Wind Energy on OCS-A-0521, and Vineyard Wind on OCS-A-055. Combined, the bids on the three lease sites total $405 million, but the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will conduct an anti-competitiveness review, lasting up to 30 days, before the apparent high bidders are awarded the leases. If fully developed, the trio of areas could support 4.1 gigawatts of commercial wind generation.

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