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Feds to Lease Offshore Wind Sites off New Jersey Coast

The federal government this week announced plans to lease nearly 344,000 acres of the ocean floor off the coast of New Jersey to companies interested in building offshore windmills to generate electricity.  The lease area would run roughly from Long Beach Island to the southern tip of the state near Cape May.

The Interior Department and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management say that if fully developed, the leases could result in enough wind-generated electricity to power 1.2 million homes.  The leases are to be sold Nov. 9.

“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,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday.

So far, 13 companies have been qualified to bid on the New Jersey leases.  Chris Wissemann, CEO of Fishermen’s Energy, applauded the decision and called on New Jersey to approve his project. “Now that it is clear that commercial-scale development is coming to New Jersey, it is all the more important to implement a demonstration-scale project as a first step so that New Jersey can responsibly develop full-scale projects”.

In July, construction started on Deepwater Wind’s $225 million, 30-megawatt offshore wind project off Block Island in Rhode Island that will provide electricity to Block Island and Rhode Island mainland consumers.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has so far awarded nine commercial offshore wind leases, including seven through the competitive lease sale process. Two are off Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two are off the Massachusetts coast, two more are off Maryland and one is off Virginia. The federal government says the lease sales have generated about $14.5 million in winning bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters.