Clean Power Image Credit: Offshore wind farm via  Eugene Suslo/Shutterstock

Published on December 3rd, 2012 | by Adam Johnston


US Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Bidding Proposal Announced By Obama Administration

December 3rd, 2012 by  

Despite criticism about the lack of action on climate change policy, the Obama Administration is moving forward with further expanding renewable energy policy. Case in point, the US Department of the Interior (DOI) is opening up bids for offshore wind farming off the Atlantic Coast.

US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Tom Beaudreau, and Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Hayes announced on Friday a proposal to open bids for 278,000 acres of offshore wind energy in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia, the release said.

“Wind energy along the Atlantic holds enormous potential, and today we are moving closer to tapping into this massive domestic energy resource to create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,” said Salazar in the statement.

“We are implementing the President’s all-of-the-above strategy by focusing on developing areas with the lowest potential conflicts and the greatest expected gains. As we experience record domestic oil and gas development, we are moving forward at the same time with efforts to ensure that America continues to lead the world at developing the energy of the future,” he said.

Set for 2013, these will be the first-ever competitive lease sales for Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) wind energy.

The proposed offshore competitive wind sales is just another attempt to cut oil dependency and US foreign oil use, which is at 50%, the lowest since 1995, according to US government data.

BOEM plans the sales of a total of 277,550 acres in Virginia, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, powering up to 1.4 million homes with clean energy.

Meanwhile, the announcement may just be a first step in boosting the overall offshore picture. The Guardian also noted potential projects down the road:

“Other blocks identified include areas of North Carolina and New Jersey. There are also plans to eventually site wind farms on the Pacific Coast, in Oregon and Hawaii.”

Despite the announcement, the impending end of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy projects at the end of this year could put the industry in a stalemate and set back future wind projects.

Nonetheless, the proposed bidding for offshore wind projects will continue to move renewable energy policy forward and put the fossil fuel industry on further notice.

Source: US Department of the Interior 
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About the Author

Is currently studying at the School of the Environment Professional Development program in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto. Adam graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Adam also writes for Solar Love and also owns his own part time tax preparation business. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst, and is currently sharpening his skills as a renewable energy writer. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at

  • SteelWind

    This policy is putting the wagon before the horse…and Im a fan of wind energy!! Wind projects onshore are not profitable in the majority of wholesale power markets and its extremely difficult locking in revenue at the retail rate if scale development is the goal. Offshore wind is wildly expensive given the higher development, capital, O&M and safety costs. Meanwhile, many of the specialized boats and logistical support are already stretched thin supporting offshore wind in the UK, Germany and the like. So even if you have the economics working for you, its a sellers market for key capability. Not to mention the lack of transmission infrastructure in the open ocean or on the shoreline (after being erased by Hurricane Sandy). I don’t understand how the US government can let wind tax subsidies expire this month and announce an offshore lease sale the next. I like the appearance of momentum, buts its momentum without substance. Actual project delivery will be delayed for many, many years. Which gets me to my real point: This entire initiative is more about optics, not power delivery.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Wind projects onshore are not profitable in the majority of wholesale power markets ”


      “Offshore wind is wildly expensive given the higher development, capital, O&M and safety costs.”


      “many of the specialized boats and logistical support are already stretched thin supporting offshore wind in the UK, Germany and the like”

      More will be built.

      ” Not to mention the lack of transmission infrastructure in the open ocean”

      Going to be built.

      “I don’t understand how the US government can let wind tax subsidies expire this month and announce an offshore lease sale the next.”

      Subsidies for wind are being blocked by Republicans in Congress. The Administration controls offshore leases.

      “Actual project delivery will be delayed for many, many years.”

      Actual project delivery will occur some years after the project is begun. It’s time to begin.

      • Bill_Woods

        Still, the numbers indicate that such electricity would not be competitive in America. According to Navigant, operation and maintenance – separate from the cost of building the machines – costs about 39 euros, or about $50, per megawatt-hour. That is almost as high as the average wholesale price of a megawatt-hour in New York State — $59 last year.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The DOE is projecting ‘currently installed’ offshore wind at $0.10/kWh. Right now their projections page is down, but IIRC they project prices falling over a ten year level which makes offshore very attractive.

          If you add the tendency of offshore to blow during daytime/high demand hours then it becomes more valuable.

          Some of that very cheap power will go away as coal and nuclear plants close. What we have to look at is the current cost of new power, we can’t build old power.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The DOE site is working once more. Their prediction is that offshore wind, in ten years, will cost from 6 to 13 cents with a median cost of 8 cents. I suspect the 13 cents is created by legacy generation, with new generation being in the 6 to 8 cent range.

          I suspect any generation which costs less than 10 cents per kWh is going to be useful. A lot of the generation (wind and solar) is going to be variable so there will be value in included extra, other-cycle variable sources to reduce input variability and reduce storage/fill-in needs.

          Throw into the mix that we’ve got a lot of wind along the Eastern Seaboard where population is high and there is added value. Lower transmission costs than bringing wind from the Midwest.

          As we build out the new grid I suspect people will be using less electricity than they do now for current uses. There are several efficiencies yet to come into play. Some rise in cost will be offset by lower use.

          Then there is the enormous savings of driving/traveling using electricity rather than fossil fuels.

          • Bill_Woods

            $5100/kW capital cost, 50% CF, 5¢/kW-h O&M cost, $0/kW-h fuel cost, and the default values otherwise ––

            LCOE: 13.6 ¢/kW-h

          • the OpenEI site is a product of NREL. Perhaps they are using more complete data there. it’s very easy to check what it has concluded is the LCOE of any source in that interactive database.

    • sb114

      you are dead on…. We have designed and built New 400 kw unit, and all money has dried up for completion. They can be that lame that they don’t talk with people on the ground. Well I think they will renew the PTC for another 5 years. Make no sense to not have incentives we are so close to getting off the ground and making work..

  • Joseph Young

    Great post and good to hear despite the concerns over fiscal cliff and debt ceiling issues at the end of this year and 1st quarter of next. I will have to look more into the offshore wind farms. Very interesting in a lot of ways especially as far as how far out these will be from land and the transfer of power from them to the grids. I am coming from the REC side of things and the promotion of them for the continuance of the production of wind energy.

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