US takes steps to new mid-Atlantic offshore wind leasing round

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) last week took steps towards a new round of leasing for offshore wind sites off the coast of Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware.

Following an environmental assessment by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which found there would be no significant impacts from offshore wind development in the mid-Atlantic coast region, the DOI can now move ahead with new wind energy lease sales that could total 10 GW of capacity.

BOEM has also issued a call to invite lease nominations from the industry for sites off the coasts of Maryland and Virginia, as well as public comment.

“Offshore wind holds incredible potential for our country, and we’re moving full-steam ahead to accelerate the siting, leasing and construction of new projects,” commented Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

The announcement open us the ‘sweet spots’ for mid-Atlantic coast wind development, adds Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes.

Salazar has vowed to speed up the leasing process for offshore wind in the US, which typically takes at least 7-9 years, and has to date approved only one such project, Cape Wind, after much controversy.

Meanwhile, back on dry land, E.ON Climate & Renewables has secured funding of $122.2 million from JP Morgan and Wells Fargo to move ahead with its 150 MW Settlers Trail wind farm in Illinois.

The development, which will house 94 of GE’s 1.6 MW turbines, will provide clean power to over 45,000 households in central Illinois.

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Related stories:
US wind installations soared 31% in 2011 (31-Jan)
BP and Sempra join forces on $1 billion wind development plan (12-Jan)
US gives go ahead to major renewables projects (22-Dec 2011)
US gives official go ahead to begin construction of Cape Wind (20-Apr 2011)

07 February 2012