Share This Page

Plan to auction offshore wind-energy sites stirs concern in industry

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 7:39 p.m.

Tensions are building between the struggling offshore wind industry and the federal agency that oversees it.

Industry leaders worry that a new federal program designed to spark offshore wind construction could end up killing proposals that have been in the works for years, developers at the annual Offshore Wind Power USA conference said last week in Boston.

The federal government has jurisdiction over much of the nation's offshore wind resources, but it only recently began developing regulations that would help the industry get off the ground. In the interim, states along the Atlantic Coast began soliciting wind proposals and formulating programs to help jump-start development.

Rhode Island, for instance, chose a developer to build a demonstration project in state waters, with the idea that the same developer would go on to build a wind farm on federal waters off the state's coast. New Jersey selected developers for three multimillion-dollar data stations to measure wind resources, a critical first step for the eventual development of the firms' proposed wind farms.

Now the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has drawn up rules to auction the rights for those offshore contracts — and all these developers will have to compete with others for the rights to build their turbines at sea.

In panel discussions and conversations, the developers talked about how the process might undercut the time and money they and state agencies had spent in pushing the projects.

This year, the bureau plans to hold its first competitive auction for two sites in the Massachusetts-Rhode Island wind energy area and one site in Virginia. The process will be similar to the one it uses to award leases for offshore oil and gas drilling.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.