Offshore Wind: Major Milestones & Achievements

State and federal processes for developing offshore wind energy projects in the U.S. are well underway. 2016 saw the nation's first offshore wind farm come online, and at the end of 2016 there were 17 projects in various stages of development across the East, West, and Great Lakes coasts. 

In early 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled a coordinated strategic plan, A National Offshore Wind Strategy: Creating an Offshore Wind Industry in the United States, which seeks to achieve the deployment of 10 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 GW by 2030.

A number of milestones have been achieved since then, with increased activity in 2015 and 2016, including the nation's first offshore wind farm, Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island.

Block Island Wind Farm

2017 Milestones

  • In January, New York Governor Cuomo announced a commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, the largest such commitment in the nation.
  • Later that month the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) approved a 20-year power purchase agreement with Deepwater Wind for the 90 MW South Fork Wind Farm, which will be New York's first offshore wind farm.
  • DOI and the BOEM held an auction for the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area off the coast of North Carolina in March. The 122,405 acre lease area was awarded to Avangrid Renewables, with a winning bid of $9.1 million.
  • In May, the Maryland Public Service Commission awarded offshore renewable energy credits (ORECs) to two offshore wind projects totaling 368 MW off the coast of Maryland. U.S. Wind, Inc. plans to build a 248 MW project by 2020 and Skipjack Offshore Energy, LLC plans to build a 120 MW project by 2022. 
  • In June, Massachusetts electric distribution companies and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) issued a joint request for proposals (RFP) for 400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind energy, following the Massachusetts law passed in 2016 calling for utilities to procure 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2027. The RFP calls for at least 400 MW of offshore wind energy, but Massachusetts will also consider proposals for up to 800 MW if larger projects will have higher economic benefits for ratepayers. Bids are due in December, and the winning bid will be announced next summer.

2016 Milestones

  • In June, BOEM announced a Call for Information and Nominations seeking developer interest in acquiring commercial wind energy leases in two areas offshore Hawaii, totaling 485,000 acres (758 square miles).
  • In August, Massachusetts passed an energy bill requiring utilities in the state to procure 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2027. The first solicitation will occur by June 30, 2017 for at least 400 MW of offshore wind projects.
  • BOEM announced a Proposed Sale Notice and Request for Interest for an offshore wind lease area off the coast of North Carolina, named the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area.
  • In September, DOI and DOE released a new National Offshore Wind Strategy, which could help enable 86 gigawatts of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2050. A week later, New York released the New York State Offshore Wind Blueprint, a plan to advance the development of offshore wind along New York’s coastline. New York’s Offshore Wind Master Plan will be released by the end of 2017.
  • In November, the Maryland Public Service Commission received two applications for wind projects off the coast of Maryland by U.S. Wind Inc. and Skipjack Offshore Energy, LLC, a subsidiary of Deepwater Wind.
  • On December 12, 2016, Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the nation, came online. Deepwater Wind completed construction of the five turbines in August of 2016.
  • Lastly, DOI and the BOEM held an auction for an offshore wind lease area off the coast of New York in mid-December. After 33 rounds of bidding, the 79,350 acre lease area was awarded to Statoil Wind US LLC, with a winning bid of $42.5 million.

2015 Milestones

  • In January, DOI and BOEM held an auction for the offshore wind areas off the coast of Massachusetts. Two of the four lease areas were leased to Offshore MW, LLC and RES Americas Developments, Inc. Dong Energy later acquired RES Americas' rights to the lease area.
  • BOEM executed its first wind energy research lease with Virginia's Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy for a 12 MW offshore wind test facility off the coast of Virginia. 
  • Construction began on Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island in July.
  • In November, DOI and BOEM held an auction for two wind lease areas off the coast of New Jersey. U.S. Wind Inc. and RES Americas were the winners. 
  • DOI and BOEM also announced a Call seeking developer interest in commercial wind leases in four areas offshore South Carolina, totaling more than 1,100 square miles.

2014 Milestones

  • In May, DOI and BOEM announced a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) seeking developer interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in an area offshore of New York. 
  • In June, DOI, BOEM and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to auction 742,000 acres offshore of Massachusetts for wind energy development - the largest wind energy area in federal waters.
  • In July, DOI and BOEM announced plans to auction 344,000 acres offshore of New Jersey for wind energy development.
  • In August, DOI and BOEM announced three Wind Energy Areas offshore of North Carolina, which total approximately 307,590 acres, for potential wind energy development. 
  • Finally, DOI and BOEM held an auction in August for Maryland’s two offshore wind lease areas. U.S. Wind Inc. was the winner of both lease areas.

2013 Milestones

  • In June of 2013, the first offshore wind turbine in the U.S.—a 65-foot, one-eighth-scale model that utilizes an innovative concrete semi-submersible foundation—was deployed by the University of Maine’s DeepCwind Consortium.
  • Also in 2013, DOI and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the first two competitive lease auctions, one for two sites in an area off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts and the other for an area off the coast of Virginia.
  • Developer Deepwater Wind was selected as the winner for the Rhode Island and Massachusetts sites. Dominion Virginia Power won the auction for the lease area off the coast of Virginia.
  • In addition, the state of Maryland enacted legislation in 2013 that created an offshore renewable energy certificate (OREC) program to facilitate the development of 200 MW of offshore wind power.