The federal government is one step closer to auctioning off commercial wind leasing rights for an area located roughly 14 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.
In a Tuesday press release, US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acting director Walter Cruickshank announced that more than 742,000 acres off the shore of Massachusetts will be divided into four lease areas. It is likely that those lease areas will be auctioned off by the end of the year.
After a 60-day comment period, federal officials will finalize Tuesday’s proposal. The final proposal should include the date for the auction.
The area known as the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area is located off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. From its northern boundary, it extends 33 nautical miles southward and has an east/west width of approximately 47 nautical miles.
The four lease areas range in size from roughly 248,000 acres to about 140,000 acres.
Tuesday’s announcement is the latest step in a process that began in late 2010 when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sought to gauge commercial interest in wind energy development in the waters off Massachusetts.
Governor Patrick joined Jewell and Cruickshank for the announcement.
In a statement, Patrick said: “Today’s announcement is a momentous occasion and the culmination of years of cooperation and hard work between the Commonwealth and federal officials. Through our investments and proactive planning, Massachusetts is poised to lead the charge in offshore wind energy development, with the economic and environmental benefits that come with it.”
To date, federal officials have awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic Coast, including one to Cape Wind. Cape Wind is planning to build an estimated $2.5 billion wind project in Nantucket Sound.
Chris Reidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.