The Dept. of Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have awarded a lease to NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC, the first completed under Interior’s “Smart from the Start” initiative, which aims to streamline and facilitate development of environmentally responsible offshore wind development along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
The federal OCS lease grants the corporation exclusive right to submit one or more plans to BOEM to conduct activities in support of offshore wind energy development spanning 96,430 acres some 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware, the Interior Dept. explains in a press release.
NRG Bluewater’s Offshore Wind Power Plans
In its original project proposal, NRG Bluewater lays out its plan to construct a 450-megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm in the leased area, a project that if constructed would have an estimated capacity sufficient to supply more than 100,000 homes with clean, renewable electrical power. With the federal “Smart from the Start” lease in hand, the company can now move forward and undertake additional research and development work in the water.
More specifically, the OCS lease paves the way for NRG Bluewater to submit a Site Assessment Plan (SAP), which may include installation of a meteorological tower or buoy. The lease also enables the corporation to submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the actual building and installation of offshore wind turbines, site-to-shore cabling, and other infrastructure.
Located in federal waters, the lease area is made up of 11 full OCS blocks and 16 partial ones. The location has been chosen to “avoid existing uses of the OCS offshore Delaware,” Interior and BOEM explain, “including but not limited to major shipping lanes into and out of Delaware Bay, a proposed vessel anchorage ground and a munitions disposal area.”
Tremendous Benefits Forecast for Offshore Wind Development
An industry-sponsored study conducted for the Atlantic Wind Connection estimates that development of 7,000 MW (7 GW) of offshore wind farms in the Mid-Atlantic region from Virginia to New Jersey could create 70,000 jobs and enough clean, green power for as many as 2.3 million homes. Moreover, such development could have a combined economic impact of $19 billion across these states, as well as generating another $4.6 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue.
A 1,000-megawatt (MW) offshore wind farm built off South Carolina’s coast would create an average of more than 3,900 jobs per year during its 10-year construction period and produce over $2 billion in wages from 2016 to 2030, according to “S.C. Wind Energy Supply Chain Survey and Offshore Wind Economic Impact Study,” research carried out for the S.C. Energy Office. In addition, it would add some $620 million to state and local government revenue per year over its 10-year construction period.
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