US sparks NY offshore wind race

The US Interior Department has pulled the trigger on a competitive lease process for offshore wind projects in a 127 sq mile (204 sq km) zone in New York state waters.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Tuesday published a “Call for Information and Nominations”, in which it looks to gauge developers’ interest in vying for commercial wind-energy leases in the wedge-shaped zone, set 11 nautical miles (20km) at its nearest point off the southern coast of densely populated Long Island.

The announcement is “an important step” in opening New York state waters to offshore wind development, says BOEM acting director Walter Cruickshank.

The move comes after Energy Management Inc. (the developer behind Cape Wind) and Fishermen's Energy both expressed interest last year in developing projects in New York state waters. Today's announcement allows more developers to get their names into the ring.

To date, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind-energy leases in US Atlantic waters – three of them awarded via competitive tenders.

Of those three, two (both off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts) went to the developer Deepwater Wind last summer, while the third (off the coast of Virginia) went to Dominion Power last September.

A number of competitive leasing rounds in others states – including Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey – are expected to take place before New York’s.