BOEM finds no competitive interest in proposed wind energy research area
As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announces it has taken another important step toward issuing a wind energy research lease to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), after finding there is no competitive interest in the area where the state agency proposes to conduct activities. This would be the second wind energy research lease offshore Virginia that BOEM is considering.
DMME proposes to design, develop, and demonstrate a grid-connected, 12-megawatt (MW) offshore wind test facility on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off the coast of Virginia. The data obtained under this lease will be made publicly available and inform the future production of renewable energy within Virginia’s Wind Energy Area (WEA).
“The type of data that would be collected under this research lease is especially important to understanding the wind potential, weather and other conditions relevant to standing up wind power generation offshore Virginia,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.
On Dec. 12, 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced funding awards for seven proposed "Offshore Wind Demonstration Projects" off the nation's coasts. One of the awards was given to Dominion Resources, Inc., which partnered with DMME and others to establish the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project. This project proposes to build the wind test facility on the OCS, adjacent to the BOEM-designated WEA offshore Virginia. BOEM continues to work collaboratively with DOE in reviewing these projects.
Before the Virginia Offshore Wind Technology Advancement Project can install any facilities on the OCS, it must obtain BOEM approval. Therefore, DMME submitted an unsolicited nomination to BOEM on Feb. 13, 2013, for a proposal to install and operate two 6-megawatt turbines, associated cabling to shore, and ancillary metocean facilities (e.g., meteorological buoys).
As an initial step in the leasing process, BOEM published a "Public Notice of an Unsolicited Request for an OCS Research Lease, Request for Competitive Interest, and Request for Public Comment" in the Federal Register on July 30, 2013, to obtain public input on this research proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located. BOEM also asked whether there were other entities interested in obtaining a renewable energy lease of the same scale within the same area identified by DMME that would support potential wind energy development.
The public comment period in response to the Federal Register Notice closed on August 29, 2013. BOEM received five comments in response to the Notice, none of which expressed competitive interest in the area proposed by DMME. The comments are available here. Accordingly, BOEM will publish a “Determination of No Competitive Interest” in the Federal Register on Dec. 9, and will proceed with the leasing process on a non-competitive basis. The decision clears the way for DMME to submit a plan for renewable research activities for which BOEM will prepare a project-specific environmental review with opportunities for public input.
A map of the area and a description of the proposed research activities were provided in DMME's unsolicited request for a research lease, which is available here.
The announcement follows one from Sept. 4, when BOEM announced that Virginia Electric and Power Company (Dominion Virginia Power) was the provisional winner of the BOEM lease sale held for the Virginia WEA. This lease was executed by Dominion Virginia Power and BOEM in October. For more information about the commercial lease sale, click here.
On March 14, 2013, BOEM announced a finding of no competitive interest in response to DMME's first unsolicited request for a research lease in the WEA offshore Virginia. This proposed project would entail the installation of meteorological facilities within the Virginia WEA. For more information about this request, click here.