(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — Washington D.C. — On Thursday, March 16, 2017, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI/Interior) under Secretary Ryan Zinke, alongside Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Acting Director Walter Cruickshank, announced a massive renewable energy lease: a 122,000-acre wind energy development lease, offshore Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, won provisionally by Avangrid Renewables, LLC, for $9,066,650.
Paul R. Ross, Senior Public Affairs Specialist for DOI, confirmed to EnviroNews in an email, “Kitty Hawk is the first large-scale renewable energy lease that has occurred so far under this Administration.”
According to a press released published by DOI, the auction was competitive and accommodated several other bidders including, “Wind Future LLC, Statoil Wind US LLC, and WPD Offshore Alpha LLC.”
“The success of this lease sale reflects the continued interest of coastal communities to develop their offshore energy resources,” said Secretary Zinke. “Renewable energy, like offshore wind, is one tool in the all-of-the-above energy toolbox that will help power America with domestic energy, securing energy independence, and bolstering the economy. This is a big win for collaborative efforts with state, local, and private sector partners.”
Many were surprised Avangrid engaged in the auction at all, after it received a scare when Republican lawmakers lobbied then-President-elect Donald Trump in January to shut down Avangrid’s inland North Carolina wind farm for Amazon on national security grounds. That farm represents a $400 million project, now nearly complete.
DOI said BOEM has held six successful offshore wind energy lease auctions to date, including “$58 million in high bids for more than one million acres in federal waters.” It also noted the “operational launch of the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm – the five-turbine, 30 megawatt Block Island Wind Facility developed by Deepwater Wind at a cost of $290 million.”
In related news, Secretary Zinke also announced the Interior’s first coal contract this week: a 55-million-ton coal lease on pristine National Forest Land in Utah. The coal strip, know as Greens Hollow, was exempt from a three-year DOI coal-leasing moratorium, implemented toward the end of the Obama Administration due to outdated policy language as well as climate, air and water concerns.
In regards to both the Kitty Hawk wind lease and the Greens Hollow coal lease, the Interior concluded to EnviroNews in an email, “The Trump Administration has prioritized strengthening America’s energy security and both of the mentioned lease sales do that.”
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