BOEM Prepares for Eight Offshore Wind Lease Auctions for 2021
Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Update (August 9, 2021): BOEM announced today to extend the public comment period until September 23, 2021 - 11:59 PM ET and published a draft of the Environmental Assessment (EA) on September 8, 2021.*
On June 14, 2021 the BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) proposed eight new leasing areas for commercial wind energy use in the New York/New Jersey Bight just off the coast of New York city. The eight identified areas are located 23 miles or further from land but still in shallow ocean waters.
With the announcement on June 14 started a 60-day public comment period (ending on August 13, 2021) during BOEM will hold virtual meetings. Comments can be submitted on the BOEM website where future bidders can also submit the required qualification materials before August 13, 2021. So far eleven companies have shown their interest already.
The EA, a 167-page document published in September, was prepared in advance of the leasing process to "determine whether the issuance of a lease and grants within the Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the New York Bight (NY Bight) would lead to reasonably foreseeable significant impacts on the environment and, thus, whether an environmental impact statement should be prepared before a lease is issued."
BOEM states, “Under the reasonably foreseeable site characterization scenario, BOEM could issue leases as early as late 2021 and continue through late 2022.” Although, due to local weather and sea conditions for a lease, even if issued in late 2021, surveys would most likely not start until April 2022. Lease holders have up to 5 years to perform site characterization activities before they must submit a Construction and Operations Plan (COP).
BOEM also notes that site assessment will be preferably done with no more than two meteorological buoys (met buoys) per site, instead of met towers, stating that “met buoys have become the preferred metocean data collection platform for developers.” The document describes in further detail what surveys and assessments are expected.
BOEM is still deciding to limit of allowed leases per bidder to 1 or 2 per bidder and "proposes a minimum bid of $100.00 per acre." The auction is planned to take place online including several rounds, but no date has been set yet.
The final areas that are being prepared for leases will be scheduled for auction later this year after three years of evaluation. In the process 60 percent of the originally proposed area was excluded. Among the ocean users considered are commercial and recreational fishing, maritime navigation, Department of Defense activities, as well as visual impacts, marine protected species, avian species, radar, and existing infrastructure.
The New York Bight consists in total of five distinct Wind Energy Areas making up for 800,000 acres of ocean: Fairways North, Fairways South, Hudson North, Central Bight and Hudson South, but only the last three will be up for lease auction in 2021.
The area has the potential for 9.8 GW of offshore wind power that could provide renewable energy for 3.4 Million households. New York city, according to the 2020 census, counts about 3.2 Million households.
BOEM named eight sections (see list below) within the Hudson North, Central Bight and Hudson South area:
OCS-A-0537 84,688 acres
OCS-A-0538 84,332 acres
OCS-A-0539 80,062 acres
OCS-A-0540 76,148 acres
OCS-A-0541 84,688 acres
OCS-A-0542 87,890 acres
OCS-A-0543 85,755 acres
OCS-A-0544 43,056 acres
In preparation of the announcement the New York Bight task force has published study results and evaluations that had led to the decision.
Offshore Wind – New York Bight Task force:
Last meeting April 14-15, 2021:
Additionally, the BOEM is conducting ongoing studies to project and observe the impact of offshore wind installations in the ocean.
Ocean Studies by BOEM:
Atlantic Science Year in Review 2020 (2019, 2018, 2017, 2016)
Northeast Ocean Data
Occurring fish in the wind area
Occurring birds in the wind area
Occurring mammals & turtles in the wind area