Deleware could see wind farm in federal waters

April 21, 2010

Source: MMS Office of Public Affairs

The Department of the Interior has taken the first step for leasing a wind energy project on the Outer Continental Shelf under the framework established by the Obama Administration, issuing the nation’s initial Request for Interest for renewable energy development off the coast of Delaware.

“We have been working closely with Delaware officials on the future development of renewable energy in federal waters off their coast,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “We are very interested in the responses our Request for Interest will generate as we push forward to meet President Obama’s goal of standing up offshore wind. We are pleased to partner with Delaware Governor Jack Markell and his team on offshore wind development as they seek to meet the First State’s renewable energy goals.”

Last April, Secretary Salazar and President Obama announced the final framework for Outer Continental Shelf renewable energy development, which established a program to grant leases, easements, and rights-of-way for orderly, safe, and environmentally responsible development of renewable energy. The new program, administered by Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), also established methods for sharing revenues generated from Outer Continental Shelf renewable energy projects with affected coastal states.

"Delawareans are eager to seize the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind and we are proud to be the first state for which MMS will issue an Offshore Wind Request for Interest," said Governor Jack Markell from Delaware. "We applaud Secretary Salazar and Director Birnbaum for their commitment to creating a robust offshore wind industry in the U.S. We look forward to working together to make projects such as NRG/Bluewater Wind's planned 450MW offshore wind development park off the coast of Delaware a reality.”

Delaware officials have approved a proposal by Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC for the construction of a new power plant to sell up to 200 megawatts of power from an offshore wind farm to the state’s largest utility, Delmarva. Bluewater Wind Delaware, LLC is still required to apply to the Minerals Management Service for an offshore lease, which may entail competing with other companies if competitive interest exists.

The Minerals Management Service will use industry responses to gauge specific interest in the commercial development of wind resources off the state’s shores. If responses indicate there is no competitive interest in this area, the agency may proceed with the noncompetitive lease process. Whether the leasing process is competitive or noncompetitive, it will include public participation as well as a thorough environmental review conforming with all applicable laws.

The area covered in the Request for Interest is in federal waters between the shipping routes for Delaware Bay. The closest point to shore is about 7.5 miles due east from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The geographic extent was selected through consultation with the Delaware Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Task Force, an intergovernmental coordination group led by the Minerals Management Service. Task Force members include federal agencies, tribal governments and state and local agencies that have a role in permitting, reviewing or regulating resources or activities that are involved in energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The Minerals Management Service’s Request for Interests also invites all interested and affected parties to comment and provide information that will be useful in considering the area of interest for commercial wind energy leases, including information on environmental issues and concerns.

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