Milestone cleared for wind energy research lease offshore Virginia

BOEM finds no competitive interest in proposed wind energy research area

03-14-2013 Washington

Contact: Tracey Moriarty, 703-787-1571

As part of the Obama Administration's all-of-the-above strategy to continue to expand domestic energy development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced today that it has taken an important step toward issuing a wind energy research lease to the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME), after finding that there is no competitive interest in the area where the state agency proposes to conduct activities. 

"We look forward to continued collaboration with the Commonwealth of Virginia to enhance our understanding of wind resources off its coast," said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.  "Data collected under this research lease will be valuable to the offshore renewable energy industry, as well as to BOEM and other government agencies, universities, environmental organizations, and other key stakeholders."

On June 1, 2012, the DMME submitted an unsolicited nomination for a research lease to BOEM.  As an initial step in the leasing process, BOEM published a "Public Notice of an Unsolicited Request for an OCS Research Lease, Request for Competitive Interest, and Request for Public Comment" in the Federal Register on Dec. 21 to obtain public input on the research proposal and its potential environmental consequences, and to determine whether there was other interest in acquiring a research lease for the area in which the proposed project would be located.

The public comment period in response to the Federal Register notice closed on Jan. 22.  BOEM received four comments in response to the Notice, none of which expressed a competitive interest in the area proposed by DMME. Accordingly, BOEM will publish a Determination of No Competitive Interest in the Federal Register on March 15, and can proceed with the leasing process on a non-competitive basis. This decision clears the way for DMME to submit a plan for renewable research activities, including siting and installation of two meteorological and ocean monitoring platforms to collect data on wind velocities, water levels, waves, and bird and bat activities. 

This will be the first wind energy research lease on the OCS that BOEM has issued to a state agency.  The data obtained under the research lease will be made publicly available and support the future production of renewable energy within and around Virginia's Wind Energy Area (WEA).

The Federal Register notice will be available for public inspection at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/.  

A map of the area and description of the proposed research activities are described in DMME's unsolicited request for a research lease, which can be viewed by clicking here.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of offshore conventional and renewable energy resources.