NRG Bluewater Wind won the exclusive rights to negotiate with the federal government to build an offshore wind farm off the Delaware coast on March 24, 2011. As the first developer to enter into the “Smart from the Start” program released by the BOEMRE on February 7, 2011, NRG Bluewater Wind signed a non-competitive lease agreement for a proposed 450 MW offshore wind energy facility.

The reason for non-competitive lease? After the DOI released a RFI on April 26, 2010, only two commercial parties submitted interest, Occidental Development & Equities, LLC and NRG Bluewater Wind. The RFI, reviewed by the BOEMRE, invited submissions for interested parties to obtain one or more commercial leases for the construction of a wind energy project(s) on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore Delaware. Subsequently BOEMRE determined that Occidental’s proposal “lacked development, construction, operation and maintenance or decommissioning cost details,” and as a result was rejected by the committee.

NRG Bluewater Wind has had their eye on the project since 2006, after Delaware's signed a RPS into law, requiring that 10% of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2018. In June and July of 2008 NRG Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power finalized a 25 – year PPA for up to 200 MW. The project proposes 49 large turbines and 150 smaller ones approximately 13.2 miles off the Delaware coast. The contract requires the turbines start producing electricity no later than 2016. (NRG timeline link below)

The future is still unknown. Although the non-competitive lease agreement is in place, there are a whole slew of rigorous environmental reviews and an extensive permitting process at the federal, state, and local level. Ironically, the goal of “Smart from the Start” program was to cut, in half, the time associated with permitting processes. Optimistically, NRG Bluewater Wind allotted 12 – 24 months for permitting into the timeline. However, if Cape Wind can provide any insight to construction and operation, NRG Bluewater Wind may be in for a long ride.

For more information on BOEMRE announcement: http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/Interior-Initiates-Process-for-First-Smart-from-the-Start-Lease-for-Commercial-Wind-Power-Offshore-Delaware.cfm

NRG Bluewater Timeline: http://www.bluewaterwind.com/de_timeline.htm

“Smart from the Start” http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=186636

RFI: http://www.boemre.gov/offshore/PDFs/FinalDelawareRFI.pdf