Commercial Wind Lease for the Wind Energy Area Offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Lease Areas Offshore RI and MA
Lease Areas Offshore RI and MA

Call for Information and Nominations

The Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Lands Act requires BOEM to award leases for renewable energy projects competitively, unless BOEM determines there is no competitive interest.  So, on August 18, 2011, BOEM published a "Call for Information and Nominations for Commercial Leasing for Wind Poweron the OCS Offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts" in the Federal Register (under Docket ID: BOEM-2011-0049) to help BOEM determine whether competitive interest exists in the identified Call Area offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The "Call" also requested information from the public on issues relevant to BOEM's review of nominations for potential leasing in the area.   The Call Area was identified through consultation with BOEM's Rhode Island and Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Forces, which include federal, state, and tribal government partners, and using information gathered by the State of Rhode Island in its Special Area Management Plan.

The public comment period for the Call closed on October 3, 2011.  In response, BOEM received eight commercial indications of interest to obtain a commercial lease for a wind energy project.  BOEM initiated a review of these parties' submissions to assess filing completeness, as well as legal, technical, and financial qualifications to hold an OCS renewable energy commercial lease.  BOEM also received a number of comments, which can be viewed by clicking here.  

Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Lease Issuance

On August 18, 2011, BOEM also published a "Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Commercial Wind Lease Issuance and Site Characterization Activities on the Atlantic OCS Offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts" under Docket ID: BOEM-2011-0063. The purpose of the EA was to consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts and socioeconomic effects of issuing renewable energy leases and subsequent site characterization activities (geophysical, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys needed to develop specific project proposals on those leases) in an identified Wind Energy Area (WEA) on the OCS offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The EA also intended to consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts associated with the approval of site assessment activities (including the installation and operation of meteorological towers and buoys) on the leases that may be issued in the WEA.  Comments received on the NOI can be viewed by clicking here. BOEM considered those comments prior to announcing in July 2012 the availability of an environmental assessment (EA) that analyzed potential environmental effects associated with renewable energy leasing and data gathering in the WEA off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  BOEM sought public comments in response to the July 2012 EA, which can be viewed by clicking here.

On June 4, 2013 BOEM made available a revised environmental assessment (EA) for the WEA offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI), which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the commercial wind lease issuance and related activities would not significantly impact the environment. For more information, click on the links below:

Wind Energy Area Identification

After extensive stakeholder outreach and use of scientific research, BOEM announced in February 2012 the Rhode Island and Massachusetts WEA, which comprises approximately 164,750 acres within the "area of mutual interest" identified by Rhode Island and Massachusetts in a Memorandum of Understanding between the two states in 2010.  For additional information regarding the WEA, click on the links below:

Proposed Sale Notice  

Working with the joint Rhode Island and Massachusetts Task Force and using the information from public information meetings associated with the Environmental Assessment, BOEM published a Proposed Sale Notice on Dec. 3, 2012, which provided detailed information about the offshore areas, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating bids, and procedures for award, appeals and lease execution.
Below are important documents related to the PSN:

BOEM received 82 comments in response to the PSN, which are available here.

First Competitive Lease Sales

On July 31, 2013, BOEM auctioned the Rhode Island/Massachusetts WEA, which represented our nation's first competitive lease sale.

BOEM auctioned the area as two leases, referred to as the North Lease Area (Lease OCS-A0486) and the South Lease Area (Lease OCS-A0487). The North Lease Area consisted of about 97,500 acres and the South Lease Area consisted of about 67,250 acres.

Materials related to the Final Sale Notice and the lease sales are:

BOEM announced that Deepwater Wind New England LLC was the winner of both lease areas. The auction received $3,838,288 in high bids and lasted one day, consisting of 11 rounds. In addition to Deepwater Wind New England, LLC, the following companies participated in the auction: Sea Breeze Energy, LLC; and US Wind Inc.

To access the Department of Interior's press release, click here. A summary of bidding results is provided here.

Commercial Leases

On September 12, 2013, BOEM executed commercial wind energy leases OCS-A 0486 and OCS-A 0487 with the winner of lease sale ATLW-2, Deepwater Wind New England, LLC. The executed leases and a map of the lease areas are below: