Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank have announced the proposed sale of leases for nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy leasing. BOEM identified the New Jersey Wind Energy Area in consultation with members of its New Jersey Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which includes federal, state, tribal, and local government partners. BOEM proposed to auction the Wind Energy Area as two leases: the South Lease Area (160,480 acres) and the North Lease Area (183,353 acres). The Wind Energy Area will begin at about seven nautical miles off the coast from Atlantic City. Based on an analysis prepared for BOEM by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the New Jersey Wind Energy Area as currently delineated, if fully developed, may be able to support up to 3,400 megawatts of commercial wind generation, enough to power about 1.2 million homes.

The Proposed Sale Notice included a 60-day public comment period and provided detailed information concerning the areas available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details (e.g. criteria for evaluating competing bids and award procedures), and lease execution. The end of the comment period also served as the deadline for any companies wishing to participate in the lease sale to submit their qualification package. To obtain more information about the Proposed Sale Notice and the qualification package, please click here.This announcement builds on the work of the Department of the Interior (DOI) to start up a sustainable offshore wind program through its “Smart from the Start” wind energy initiative for the Atlantic Coast. On 19 August 2014, the DOI awarded two leases for approximately 80,000 acres off the coast of Maryland that allow for 25 years of operations. The winning bid was approximately US$8.7 million. The area has the capacity to support between 850 and 1,405 megawatts of wind power, which would be enough for 300,000 homes. In June, an auction of wind leasing rights for more than 742,000 acres off the coast of Massachusetts was announced, nearly doubling the federal offshore acreage for commercial offshore wind energy projects. The proposed lease area, located approximately 12 miles off the coast, is the largest lease area in federal waters and will be auctioned off by BOEM in four parcels.

In addition, BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). BOEM expects to hold additional competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Massachusetts in the coming year.