The US plans to auction a 33,000-hectare offshore wind lease area off New York State with a sale possible by the end of the year.

“This is another major step in broadening our nation’s energy portfolio, harnessing power near population centers on the East Coast,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

The proposed lease area starts about 11 miles south of Long Island and is based on a 700MW proposal by the New York Power Authority in 2011. It will be auctioned as a single lease.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expects to issue a proposed sale notice next week that will outline auction details.

Developers interested in the site will have 60 days to submit a qualification package.

Seven companies have already qualified to participate: the NYPA-LIPA-ConEd group, Beautiful Earth Partners, Deepwater Wind, EDF, Fishermen’s Energy, Energy Management Inc and Sea Breeze Energy.

BOEM also will publish an environmental assessment that considers potential impacts of issuing a lease. It will include a 30-day comment period.

Upon completion of the environmental review and consultations BOEM may publish a final sale notice with details of the lease sale.

“We are hopeful we can offer this area for lease by the end of this year,” said BOEM director Abigail Ross Hopper.

“The proposed lease area could make substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply and assist local and state governments -- including New York City -- in achieving their renewable energy goals,” said Hopper.

The state is developing a large-scale renewable program to help New York meet a 50% by 2030 renewables mandate.  New York City has plans to be 100% powered by renewable energy.

Advocates are pushing for an offshore wind carve-out in both plans.

Meanwhile, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) said it will participate in the auction. 

The state agency is taking this step to try to ensure offshore wind in New York will be developed at the lowest possible cost for electricity consumers while protecting the environment and growing the economy.

NYSERDA president and CEO John Rhodes said: "Offshore wind offers our state great promise and NYSERDA is committed to ensuring this vast renewable energy resource is developed in a cost-effective way to augment New York's energy infrastructure."

The US has so far auctioned off more than a million acres in federal waters, granting commercial lease rights off New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Virginia. The sales have generated about $16m in winning bids.

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