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The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have announced plans to sell leases for nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind power development.

BOEM proposes to auction the designated Wind Energy Area (WEA), which begins about seven nautical miles off the coast from Atlantic City, as two leases: the South Lease Area (160,480 acres) and the North Lease Area (183,353 acres). The agency says analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows the New Jersey WEA could support up to 3.4 GW of wind generation, enough to power about 1.2 million homes.

The proposed sale notice, to be published in the Federal Register on July 21, will include a 60-day public comment period ending Sept. 19. Comments received or postmarked by that date will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of the final sale notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale.

The end of the comment period also serves as the deadline for any companies wishing to participate in the lease sale to submit their qualification package. To be eligible to participate in the lease sale, each bidder must have been notified by BOEM that it is legally, technically and financially qualified by the time the final sale notice is published. BOEM says it will also host a public seminar on Aug. 6 to describe the auction format, explain the auction rules and demonstrate the auction process.

This latest announcement builds on the DOI’s ongoing offshore wind initiatives. To date, 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 also expects to hold additional competitive auctions for WEAs offshore Maryland in August and Massachusetts in the coming year. 



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