The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has published its environmental assessment for the Massachusetts wind energy area (WEA), where ten developers are vying for five leaseholds.
The assessment focuses on an area of 3008km², running from 22km south of Martha’s Vineyard, and featuring water depths of 30-60m.
The BOEM assessment found that offshore wind development, when combined with other likely nearby projects, would result in some environmental impacts, but each of these – such as impacts on water quality, birds, bats, fish, sea turtles, marine mammals and coastal habitats – would be either "minor" or "negligible".
Once the ongoing 30-day consultation period ends on 3 December, BOEM will determine whether to issue a finding of no significant impact or whether to carry out more analysis via an environmental impact statement.
Eventually, the agency will divide the wind energy area into development zones, and auction these off.
Ten developers have expressed interest in bidding for commercial leases within the Massachusetts WEA, in response to BOEM's call in February 2012. The interested parties include:
- Deepwater Wind, developer of the 30MW Block Island wind farm planned for offshore Rhode Island
- Fishermen’s Energy, the company proposing a 25MW offshore development near Atlantic City
- Energy Management Inc, the developer of Cape Wind
- enXco, now known as EDF Renewable Energy
- Iberdrola, a Spanish energy company with a policy that prioritises offshore wind development.
Other developers vying for leases include Arcadia Offshore Massachusetts, Condor Wind Energy, Neptune Wind, Offshore MW and US Mainstream Renewable Power.