Article Originally Appears in CommonWealth

Stephen Conant | November 16, 2018

THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR’S Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced last month that it will auction three new wind energy lease areas off the Massachusetts coast, instead of the two that were initially forecast. The move provides a fresh gust of good news for the emerging wind industry in the United States. By mapping out three areas from the two, the auction increases the number of offshore wind developers that eventually will be eligible to respond to requests for proposals in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York. States could see as many as five or six developers bidding to bring energy consumers the lowest price.

Even more encouraging is the qualification of 19 eligible bidders listed in Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s October 18 notice of final sale. It indicates the robustness and ever-increasing interest in developing an offshore wind industry on the East Coast. Whether spelled out in the eligible bidder’s name, such as Equinor Wind US LLC, or hidden behind a clever New England sounding name – Shell has taken the name Mayflower Wind Energy LLC – the auction has attracted the attention of the world’s largest energy companies with worldwide experience in offshore wind development.

But the message is mixed for energy consumers.  These companies will compete by offering the highest price for the lease areas.  That’s good for the federal government’s coffers, but perhaps not so good for ratepayers’ pockets. The high price paid to the federal government to win a lease will be built into the price consumers pay for the wind power from the lease area. The high lease prices brought about by the 19 bidders promises to work against consumer interests.

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