First U.S. offshore wind farm comes online amid increase in federal leasing for offshore wind

Published on December 06, 2016 by Daily Energy Insider Reports

The first commercial offshore wind farm in the United States is set to come online late this year of the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island, as federal leasing for offshore wind continues to grow, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The five wind turbines will produce 30 megawatts of electricity to power Block Island, which currently relies on expensive diesel-powered generators.  

The United States has 4,200 gigawatts of potential offshore wind energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates, with the majority of that potential in federal waters. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) manages all wind development in federal waters.

BOEM held its first competitive federal offshore commercial wind sale in 2013, auctioning approximately 165,000 acres off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts to use for wind energy development. Since the initial auction, BOEM has held four more auctions throughout the Atlantic region.

Since 2013 more than 1 million acres of land in federal waters have been leased for wind development and have generated more than $16 million in revenue from the lease sales for the federal government.

BOEM is set to hold a lease sale for offshore New York for close to 80,000 acres on Dec. 15, with 14 companies qualifying to participate in that offering.

It also plans to have another lease sale for areas offshore North Carolina next year.

Since the first lease sale in 2013, the number of companies qualifying to participate has steadily risen to 14 from 8 in 2013.