From the ABC 7 Weather team

Government leases 165,000 acres of offshore land for wind farms

August 2, 2013 - 04:00 AM
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The Department of the Interior help the first competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters.

The Department of the Interior discussed in a press release that Deepwater Wind New England, LLC won two leases for nearly 165,000 acres of land offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The company plans to build winds farms, that once completed may possibly generate enough energy to power more than one million homes.

The Wind Energy Area is located 9.2 nautical miles off the coast of Rhode Island and has the potential to generate 3,395 megawatts of power. Here is a good site to give you an idea how energy is measured. The lease went through for just about $3.8 million, lasted a day and went through 11 rounds to determine the provisional winner.

This company will still need to be approved by the FTC for antitrust reasons, then will continue to go through the process for submitting a Site Assessment Plan and Construction and Operations Plan in the coming years. Overall, this appears like it will be a very slow process, but will potentially be a very rewarding outcome years down the road.

This isn't the only auction in the works, as another one much closer to home will occur on September 4th of this year. Nearly 113,000 acres of land are up for auction off the coast of Virginia, which could lead to the potential of developing up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind generation. This area is good for a wind farm because of the "shallow continental shelf that extends nearly 30 miles off the coast, proximity to load centers, availability of local supply chain infrastructure, and world class port facilities," says Dominion Power.

Wind farms offshore have a higher energy production potential due to less frictional effects over the water than land which leads to typically stronger and more consistent wind speeds over the ocean. The downside is the fact that a company would need to build these in the ocean, which is a very costly venture and the maintenance will be much more difficult to perform.

These projects have come about as the President challenged the Dept. of the Interior to "re-double efforts on the renewable energy program by approving an additional 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy production on public lands and waters by 2020," says the DOI's press release.

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