NOVEMBER 10, 2015 — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) yesterday held a lease sale offering nearly 344,000 acres in federal waters offshore New Jersey for potential wind energy development.
The provisional winners were RES America Developments Inc., which bid $880,715 for lease area OCS-A 0498 (160,480 acres), and US Wind Inc., which bid $1,006,240 for OCS-A 0499 (183,353 acres). Fishermen's Energy LLC also participated in the lease sale.
RES America is an offshoot of the U.K. headquartered RES Group and US Wind is controlled by Renexia, a subsidiary of Italy's TOTO Holding S.p.A. Both RES Group and Renexia have considerable experience in international offshore wind developments.
Fishermens Energy, founded by New Jersey commercial fishermen, is well advanced with plans to to build a 25 MW demonstration scale offshore wind project off the coast of Atlantic City, but has faced a long regulatory battle with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) which has thus far held off its approval for the project.
The New Jersey Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee has now approved an amendment to state offshore wind legislation to require the BPU to open a window for soliciting new proposals for the Fishermen’s Energy project. It is expected that the full Assembly and Senate will pass the bill by year-end.
An analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, indicates that if fully developed, the area leased in yesterday's federal sale could support about 3,400 megawatts of commercial wind generation, enough electricity to power about 1.2 million homes.
"With provisional winners for both lease areas, we are optimistic about the promise of a strong renewable energy future offshore New Jersey, as well as for the entire nation," said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. "I look forward to working with the members of the New Jersey Renewable Energy Task Force and the public on future wind energy projects proposed for these leases by RES America Developments Inc. and US Wind Inc."
The New Jersey Wind Energy Area starts about seven nautical miles offshore and extends roughly 21 nautical miles seaward.
The winning bidders will still have to jump through several hoops before they can put any windmills in the water.
Each lease will have a preliminary term of one year, during which the lessee will submit a Site Assessment Plan to BOEM for approval. A Site Assessment Plan describes the activities (installation of meteorological towers and buoys) a lessee plans to perform for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area.
Once a Site Assessment Plan is approved, the lessee will have four and a half years to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan provides detailed information for the construction and operation of a wind energy project on the lease.
Once BOEM receives a COP from a lessee, BOEM will conduct an environmental review of that proposed project. Public input will be an important part of BOEM's review process. If the COP is approved, the lessee will have an operations term of 25 years.