The U.S. Department of the Interior has announced its approval for the Empire Wind offshore wind project, marking the sixth commercial-scale offshore wind energy project to receive federal approval.
Empire Wind US LLC, a joint venture between Equinor and BP, plans to develop two offshore wind farms known as Empire Wind 1 and Empire Wind 2. Situated approximately 12 nautical miles south of Long Island, New York, and 16.9 nautical miles east of Long Branch, New Jersey, these projects will comprise a total of up to 147 wind turbines with a combined capacity of nearly 2.1 gigawatts.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) estimates that this clean, renewable energy could power over 700,000 homes annually. During the construction phase, the projects are expected to create over 830 jobs each year, with approximately 300 jobs annually during the operations phase.
Equinor signed the commercial lease for the federal offshore wind area in March 2017, following a successful auction held by BOEM in December 2016. The first power from the Empire Wind project is anticipated to be delivered in the mid-2020s.
Empire Wind LLC was one of four offshore wind project developers to be denied a petition to amend to sales and purchase agreements with New York State to raise the rates for consumers due recent inflationary pressures impacting project economics.
The approval also comes as New York marks the first offshore wind turbine installation for the South Fork Wind project off Montauk, N.Y. The project is set to become the first completed utility-scale wind farm in the United States.
“BOEM and our partners have already achieved so much in pursuit of the Administration’s goal of reaching 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “Extensive engagement with Tribes, other government partners, ocean users, concerned citizens, and more has helped us to avoid or reduce user conflicts while facilitating the responsible development of offshore wind projects. We look forward to continuing our work with them as we move this industry forward.”
Under the Biden Administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation’s first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects.
BOEM has also held four offshore wind lease auctions, generating nearly $5.5 billion in high bids. Notably, a record-breaking sale took place offshore New York and New Jersey, and the first-ever sales occurred offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. The Department continues to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in various regions, including the Gulf of Maine, offshore Oregon, and the U.S. Central Atlantic coast.
The Record of Decision includes measures aimed at avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating the potential impacts arising from the project’s construction and operation. Empire Wind, LLC has committed to establishing fishery mitigation funds to compensate commercial and for-hire recreational fishers for any losses directly resulting from the project.
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