America’s wind farms are set to expand to the offshore market, as the Interior Department just announced that it will auction wind energy rights to 164,750 acres off New England’s coast. Rhode Island and Massachusetts waters will be the first to be leased to wind energy investors. The area has the potential to generate 3,400 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to power over a million New England homes.
A federal environmental review found that the waters near Massachusetts and Rhode Island are optimal for developing offshore wind farms with low risk of environmental impact. Once constructed, the New England wind farms will be the first offshore developments in the United States. Thirteen other projects are said to be in the works for regions around the Atlantic, Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico, but none have commenced construction. The aforementioned projects are also privately held with Federal permits, as opposed to government-auctioned seaspace.
Offshore wind farms are already common in other parts of the world, which has led some to speculate that the lack of their presence in the United States is a political issue. Democrats embraced the Interior Department’s announcement to auction the waters for wind farm development, but Republicans were dismayed, favoring oil drilling to renewable energy development.