Ørsted Greenlights Seventh US Offshore Wind Farm as it Gets BOEM Approval

Ørsted Greenlights Seventh US Offshore Wind Farm as it Gets BOEM Approval

Ørsted Greenlights Seventh US Offshore Wind Farm as it Gets BOEM Approval

Via Maritime Executive

The U.S. continues to push forward with its efforts to develop renewable offshore wind energy with the Biden administration highlighting that it has approved the seventh offshore wind farm. This comes as the latest in the series of rapid developments as the efforts reach the conclusion of the long permitting process and the administrations seek to add more opportunities into the pipeline.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management today issued the Record of Decision for the Sunrise Wind project to provide power to New York State. It is a key hurdle for the project that was first auctioned in 2013. BOEM’s issuance of the Record of Decision formally concludes its National Environmental Policy Act review process and precedes the anticipated approval of Sunrise Wind’s Construction and Operations Plan, expected this summer.

The lease area is located approximately 16.4 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and approximately 26.5 nm east of Montauk, New York. The project calls for a capacity of 924 MW which they report will provide power for the equivalent of 600,000 homes in New York State. 

At the same time today, Ørsted and its joint venture partner Eversource have taken a final investment decision for the project meaning that they will now advance with some initial onshore construction activities. The companies highlighted that they have already given contracts for work including the installation of the underground duct bank system for the onshore transmission line and construction and steel manufacturing work.

These developments are especially significant as the project was in doubt just a few months ago as Ørsted began reassessing its U.S. portfolio and the partners said the power purchase agreement was no longer financially viable. New York State permitted them to cancel the old contract and selected Sunrise Wind for a second time in the recent solicitation. The companies are still working to finalize a new 25-year contract with the state.

As previously announced, Ørsted has agreed to acquire Eversource’s 50 percent ownership share in Sunrise Wind, becoming the project’s sole owner, subject to the signing of an OREC contract with NYSERDA, finalization of acquisition agreements, COP approval, and other relevant regulatory approvals. Eversource will remain contracted to lead the project’s onshore construction.

In issuing the Record of Decision, BOEM highlights that it revised the plans to reflect the comments received during its review process. Among the points, the decision altered the plan calling for fewer turbines. It approved the construction of up to 84 wind turbines within the lease area.  

As the seventh approved project, BOEM reports it has now cleared 8 GW of offshore wind power capacity. They estimate this will power roughly three million homes.

Today’s action follows the release of guidance last week for the tax credits available to the wind industry under the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as launching the next phase of reviews for the Vineyard Northeast and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind. They have also approved Empire Wind’s construction plan and moved forward on projects in the Gulf of Maine, the Central Atlantic, and the Oregon Coast. The administration has conducted a total of four lease auctions including the first off California and in the Gulf of Mexico.