January 29, 2015 – that’s the date the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has selected for the auctioning of four leases within the Massachusetts offshore Wind Energy Area (WEA). The WEA is located 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and encompasses more than 742,000 acres. A map of the proposed location can be found here (green shading). Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell praised the Commonwealth and Governor Patrick stating, “This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier.”
According to federal analysis, if fully developed, the four leases could support 800 turbines producing between four and five gigawatts of commercial wind generation. Put another way, the leases could produce enough electricity to power over 1.4 million homes. BOEM’s most recent Environmental Assessment concluded that the leases would not significantly impact the environment, including both visual resources and wildlife habitats. Twelve companies have qualified to bid in the competitive auction and may take part in a mock auction to be held on January 26, 2015.
Superfund and Solar
Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded its first-ever “Superfund Excellence in Site Re-use” awards in New England. The awards were granted through EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Initiative. The recipients were two federally listed sites in Massachusetts: Iron Horse Park in Billerica, and Sullivan’s Ledge in New Bedford. EPA lauded both locations for transforming contaminated sites into abundant sources of clean, renewable energy. Combined, both sites will generate roughly 8 megawatts of power.