5 GW of New Offshore Wind Power Approved for the U.S. Northeast

Over the past week, the offshore wind power sector in the U.S. received two major federal approvals that could add nearly 5 GW to the grid.

On July 1, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved a construction and operations plan (COP) for Avangrid’s 791-MW New England Wind 1 project and 1,080-MW New England Wind 2 project. On July 2, the agency announced a joint record of decision (ROD) for Shell New Energies and EDF Renewables North America’s 2.8-GW Atlantic Shores South offshore wind energy project offshore New Jersey—making it the nation’s ninth commercial-scale offshore wind project to receive the distinction.

A Big Milestone for New England Offshore Projects

BOEM’s COP approval will permit the construction and operation of Avangrid’s New England 1 and 2—a combined 2.6 GW. The projects are situated approximately 20 nautical miles (nm) south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and about 24 nm southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts. “The COP for the two projects includes up to 129 wind turbine generators, up to five electric service platforms, and up to five offshore export cables transmitting electricity to onshore transmission systems in the Town of Barnstable and Bristol County, Massachusetts,” BOEM said.

Avangrid, an Iberdrola Group subsidiary, on Monday said full federal approval of the COP for the New England Wind 1 “represents a critical milestone, and largely completes the federal, state, and local permitting process” for the project. The project sited in federal lease area OCS-A 0534, roughly 30 miles south of Barnstable, Massachusetts, is “exceptionally advanced and shovel-ready,” it noted.

The project will notably border the 806-MW Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind project to the south. Owned a joint venture comprising Avangrid and Danish Investment firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, Vineyard Wind has marked remarkable progress since it kicked off offshore construction in late 2022 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Avangrid on Monday noted Vineyard Wind achieved steel-in-the-water in June 2023 and completed the nation’s first offshore substation in July 2023. In January, the project marked first power from the first of its 62 13-MW GE Vernova Haliade-X wind turbines. It is expected to be fully operational later this year.

Construction of Avangrid’s New England Wind projects, however, will be determined by an offshore procurement process jointly offered by the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. The effort stems from an October 2023 memorandum of understanding signed by the three states to jointly seek offshore wind proposals “that would expand benefits for the region, capture cost reductions by developing projects at scale, and develop into viable projects.” Avangrid submitted proposals to the procurement in March to build the 791-MW New England Wind 1, pair it with a 1-GW New England Wind 2 project for a massive 1.9-GW project, and additional bids for single-state procurements in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

The company on Monday noted that the “states are anticipated to announce selected projects from the competitive procurement in August 2024.” New England Wind 1 “is the only project in the solicitation that has all federal, state, and local permits; the ability to start construction in 2025; and deliver power by 2029.” it said.

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