Developer NRG Bluewater has been granted permission to proceed with plans to build its Mid-Atlantic Wind Park project off the coast of theUS state of Delaware. The company is seeking development partners with which to take its project forward, a spokesperson confirmed to Windpower Offshore.
NRG Bluewater is the first offshore wind developer to be granted permission to proceed under the terms of the US Department of the Interior's (DoI) new, co-ordinated approach to permitting offshore wind, called "smart from the start".
The lease awarded by the DoI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (Boem) gives NRG Bluewater the exclusive right to submit offshore wind development plans within an area totalling 96,430 acres (39,023ha), about 11 nautical miles off the coast.
This week's news represents a turnaround in the fortunes of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Park. Late last year, NRG Bluewater announced it was putting the plan on hold. The company had agreed a 200MW power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power, but in December 2011 announced that the contract had been terminated.
Now in receipt of a development lease from Boem, NRG believes its project has gained in value and represents a "more inviting asset to potential investors." NRG's "near-term actions" will include making a lease payment of approximately $300,000 (€231,350) and submitting a description of how it will develop a "site assessment plan".
The DoI launched "smart from the start" in November 2010 in an effort to streamline the siting, leasing and construction of offshore wind projects. Under the scheme, the DoI has identified six priority wind energy areas off the US east coast. In 2010, the DoI said it expected the first leases would be issued in late 2011 or early 2012. This week’s announcement marks the first commercial lease issued under the programme.