Biden Administration Approves Seventh Offshore Wind Project

March 26, 2024 by Dan McCue
Biden Administration Approves Seventh Offshore Wind Project
(Sunrise Wind photo)

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Tuesday approved the construction of the Sunrise Wind offshore wind farm, a project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, that proponents say will eventually power 320,000 homes.

The project is the seventh commercial-scale wind farm to be approved under President Joe Biden’s watch, and when completed, it is expected to be the country’s largest offshore wind facility.

According to Interior Department officials, the development will support more than 800 direct jobs during its construction phase and about 300 jobs annually during the operations phase.

Combined, the seven offshore projects have the potential to provide more than 8 GW of clean energy — enough to power roughly 3 million homes.

Ali Zaidi, Biden’s national climate advisor, described Tuesday’s approval as continuing a “surge of momentum” in the U.S. offshore wind sector.

“In just the last few weeks, our administration has issued guidance to expand pathways for offshore wind projects to be eligible for the Energy Communities tax credit bonus in the president’s Inflation Reduction Act, celebrated the completion of the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project, proposed a second offshore wind sale for the Gulf of Mexico and finalized the first wind energy area in the Gulf of Maine, and announced another $450 million available for port grants through the president’s bipartisan infrastructure law — including for port projects that support offshore wind,” Zaidi said. 

“We will continue turning offshore wind opportunities into realities, with a bright future ahead as we grow an American industry that is creating good-paying union jobs, supporting our manufacturing boom and tackling the climate crisis,” he added.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has held four offshore wind lease auctions, bringing in almost $5.5 billion in high bids.

These auctions include a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. 

The bureau has also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the United States, including in the Gulf of Maine and offshore Oregon and the Central Atlantic coast.

As for the Sunrise Wind project itself, the agency noted that based on comments from key stakeholders and the public, it selected a preferred alternative that included fewer wind turbine generators than originally proposed by the developers.

The decision, it said, was based on a desire to reduce impact to the undersea habitat and the Atlantic cod, while still meeting the energy needs of residents and businesses in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“New York is already home to the trailblazing South Fork Wind project, and with Sunrise Wind we will build on that foundation, broadening the economic benefits of offshore wind while delivering far more clean renewable power,” said David Hardy, Group EVP and CEO of Americas at Ørsted, one of the partners in the project.

“With the federal Record of Decision in-hand and our final investment decision having been made, we can continue to create hundreds of local union jobs and stand up a vibrant supply chain,” he said.

Joe Nolan, chairman, president and CEO of Eversource Energy, the other major partner in the project, said the two firms are “poised and ready” to start building the transmission system to connect Sunrise Wind’s clean power to the New York electric grid.

“It’s a momentous infrastructure project, to be built by local contractors and the men and women of New York’s building trades and other labor unions,” Nolan said. “We promised to put New Yorkers to work building the energy of the future, and now we’re ready to deliver on that promise.”

The Record of Decision includes measures aimed at avoiding, minimizing the potential impacts that may result from the construction and operation of the project. 

These measures include a commitment by Sunrise Wind LLC to establish fishery mitigation funds to compensate commercial and for-hire recreational fishers for any losses that arise directly from the project. 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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  • Biden administration
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
  • Interior Department
  • offshore wind
  • White House
  • wind energy
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