Secretary Salazar moves to open up wind sites south of Vineyard

This map shows the proposed area that would be available for commercial wind farm development.

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to developing the nation’s vast renewable energy resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar last week announced the publication of an environmental assessment for commercial wind leases and site assessment activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts, clearing the way for public comment and final review, according to the White House.

This step puts Interior in position to offer this area as one of the nation’s first offshore competitive lease sales before the end of the year.

“When it comes to wind energy, we’re making significant progress both onshore and offshore to diversify our nation’s domestic energy portfolio and stand up a clean energy economy,” Mr. Salazar said. “Today, as we take the next steps toward realizing what could be the largest wind energy project in the world and holding a competitive offshore wind lease sale, we are really at the forefront of a renewable energy revolution.”

Mr. Salazar also cleared the way for the proposed Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Farm, which would contain up to 1,000 turbines and generate enough power for up to 1 million American homes, according to the White House. The project would be built on public, private and state land in Carbon County, Wyoming.

The environmental assessment for the Rhode Island/Massachusetts Wind Energy Area will be used by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to inform future leasing decisions as part of the Administration’s “Smart from the Start” offshore wind energy initiative.

The Wind Energy Area (WEA) comprises approximately 164,750 acres within the area of mutual interest identified by the two states. BOEM leadership will host public information sessions on July 16 in Narragansett, R.I., and July 17 in New Bedford, to further engage stakeholders and consider public comments on the environmental assessment in determining whether to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact, or conduct additional analysis under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) in order to hold a lease sale for commercial offshore wind development.