• U.S. Offshore Wind Industry Readies for Take-off Led by Northeast U.S.
  • September 26, 2016
  • Law Firm: Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky Popeo P.C. - Boston Office
  • The U.S.’s offshore wind industry is poised for a burst of activity after faltering for several years on the heels of the stalled Cape Wind project in Massachusetts. The country’s first offshore wind farm will open this fall off the coast of Rhode Island. To read more about this project, continue reading!

    The project, a five-turbine wind farm developed by Deepwater Wind off Block Island, RI, will power about 17,000 homes at a cost of about $300 million. The company was also preparing to begin developing a 15-turbine wind farm off the coast of eastern Long Island, but a New York utility put approval on hold for several weeks in order to wait until the state releases its offshore wind plan. If Deepwater Wind does receive approval, the project could power about 50,000 homes through the Long Island Power Authority.

    Beyond these initial projects, the offshore wind industry is preparing other projects that will expand to several states across the country. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has awarded 11 commercial offshore wind energy leases for sites in the Atlantic Ocean, and later this year a lease sale will occur for 81,000 acres off New York. Developers are also asking for commercial wind leases for areas off the coasts of California and Hawaii. The project sites are generally being proposed near high-population coastal areas that lack the space to build onshore wind farms.

    Massachusetts has also forayed into the offshore wind industry with the energy bill that Governor Baker signed into law in August. The legislation requires utility companies to procure long-term contracts totaling at least 1,600 megawatts of wind energy, enough to power about 240,000 homes, from offshore wind farm projects over the next ten years. As more states like California, Hawaii, New York, and Massachusetts adopt and strive to meet ambitious renewable energy goals, offshore wind projects are increasingly being incorporated into their plans. Accordingly, BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper anticipates the next three to five years will see the offshore wind industry take off as more projects are developed.