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article imageFederal government offshore wind auction shatters records

By Karen Graham     Dec 14, 2018 in Business
After the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's (BOEM) much-hyped August oil and gas auction bombed, the agency hit it big this week with their offshore wind auction — with a record-setting total of bids at $410 million for three tracts of ocean.
Today was the final day of the auction for three tracts of ocean off located 19.8 nautical miles from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., 16.7 nautical miles from Nantucket, Mass., and 44.5 nautical miles from Block Island, Rhode Island.
When fully developed, the three tracts could generate 4.1 GW of offshore wind, which would be enough electricity to power nearly 1.5 million homes, according to BOEM’s estimates. An announcement of the winners is expected at the end of the day.
A total of 19 companies qualified to take part in the competitive process, including Avangrid Renewables LLC, Deepwater Wind, Deepwater Wind New England, PNE Wind, Vineyard Wind, and Equinor Wind US. Bidding went up to 32 rounds today before the auction concluded.
BOEM has so far awarded 13 commercial offshore wind leases, while the U.S. presently has just one operating offshore wind farm — the 30-MW Block Island park off Rhode Island that entered into service in December 2016.
The largest offshore wind farm on the planet  Walney Extension  is situated in the Irish Sea.
The largest offshore wind farm on the planet, Walney Extension, is situated in the Irish Sea.
General Electric subsidiary, GE Power and Deepwater Wind, a developer of offshore turbines, partnered together to build five massive wind turbines 3.8 miles off the coast of Block Island to provide power to the 17,000 homes on the island. The project cost $300 million. The wind farm is also expected to reduce electricity costs on the island by 40 percent while creating 300 jobs.
This year's offshore wind auction is already being hailed as a great success. "Wow! We are shattering records today! This should send a strong message to BOEM & Interior that offshore wind producers need reliable and regularly scheduled offshore wind sales," the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) tweeted Thursday even before the final round had been reached.
Actually, it's about time for the current administration to sit up and take notice of what the rest of the world already knows: Offshore wind is taking off by leaps and bounds. The U.S., normally a leader in technology, has a lot of catching up to do.
More about BOEM, offshore wind auction, Massachusetts, 41 GW of capacity, Renewable energy
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