Interior seeks input on how to auction mid-Atlantic waters

Source: Phil Taylor • E&E • Posted: Monday, December 5, 2011


The Interior Department today asked the public to suggest ways it should offer hundreds of square miles of water off mid-Atlantic states for offshore wind projects.

The request comes as the agency mulls various auction formats to ensure the public gets a fair return in what could be the nation’s first competitive offshore wind leases off the coasts of Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.The agency commissioned a study of potential bidding formats and may consider factors including the regional price of electricity, wind farm sizes or state energy policies to determine winning bidders (E&ENews PM, Oct. 14).”We are evaluating several possible auction formats designed to promote offshore wind development by efficiently allocating renewable energy leases while ensuring that the United States receives a fair return,” Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau said in a statement this morning. “This is an opportunity for the public to provide input into the proposed set of auction formats.”

Interior is expected to soon issue a final environmental assessment to issue leases in four “wind energy areas,” clearing the way for developers to gauge wind speeds and begin other resource assessments.

The leases are part of the Obama administration’s plan to develop 10,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020 and 54,000 MW by 2030.

The lease sales could vary considerably from Interior’s oil and gas leasing program, in which tracts of land are auctioned live to the highest qualified bidder.

BOEM said it may use different auction formats in areas where only one lease would be issued than in areas of multiple leases. More information on the plan is available in theĀ Federal Register.

The agency will hold a workshop Dec. 16 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the South Interior Building Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The public has 45 days to comment.