Feds Auction 343,833 Offshore Acres to Wind Power Companies; 87 Percent Off Limits for Oil, Natural Gas Development

Penny Starr | October 8, 2015 | 9:34am EDT
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This May 6, 2013 file photo shows a wind turbine farm near. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The federal government is auctioning off 343,833 acres of offshore federal land for wind energy development on Nov. 9, with bidding coming from 13 companies deemed to be “legally, technically and financially qualified” to participate.

As part of President Obama’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to create U.S. jobs, develop domestic clean energy resources and cut carbon pollution, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced Wednesday that “343,833 acres offshore New Jersey will be offered for commercial wind energy development in a competitive lease sale on November 9, 2015,” the Sept. 23 press release stated.

“On the heels of this summer’s historic ‘steel-in-the-water’ milestone for the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, today’s announcement marks another major step in standing up a sustainable offshore wind program for Atlantic coast communities,” Jewell said in the press release. “This effort took significant engagement and cooperation with New Jersey and other stakeholders to advance clean energy development and reduce potential use conflicts, which moves us closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy along the Atlantic coast.”

According to the Institute for Energy Research, wind energy accounts for a small fraction of energy production in the United States.

“Today, wind power provides 1.8 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States. Though wind power has increased substantially since 1970, it constitutes only a small fraction of U.S. electricity supply. In 2013, wind power accounted for 4.4 percent of all electricity generated in the U.S.,” the Institute reported.

“Wind power can be viable for companies in areas where prevailing conditions are favorable, especially if the government compels the production of renewable energy,” the Institute reported.

BOEM reported that it has awarded “nine commercial offshore wind leases, including seven through the competitive lease sale process (two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia),” the press release stated.

“These lease sales have generated about $14.5 million in winning bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters,” it stated.

Conversely, according to BOEM, 87 percent of federal offshore acreage is off limits to the oil and natural gas development, including the entire Atlantic Coast, the entire west coast and most of Alaska.

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