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Federal regulators: NY offshore wind auction will be delayed

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Federal regulators will not hold an auction for offshore wind leases off New York until late 2019, a longer timeline than the state had initially hoped for.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has received "significant developer interest" in the New York Bight region, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration wanted to start soliciting for offshore wind projects this year. However, the BOEM said an auction would not be possible for at least another year.

"The earliest BOEM will be able to complete its renewable energy leasing process and all associated reviews, stakeholder engagement, consultations and hold an auction would be late 2019," an agency spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence. Recharge first reported the news that the state's auction would be put off for at least another year.

Statoil Wind US LLC holds a $42 million lease in New York waters that has the potential for more than 1,000 MW of offshore wind projects. In January 2017, the Long Island Power Authority approved a power purchase agreement for Deepwater Wind's 90-MW South Fork Wind Farm located 30 miles off the coast of Long Island's Montauk.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, released its Offshore Wind Master Plan in January to lay out a blueprint for how the state can procure 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030 as part of Cuomo's renewable energy target. A spokesperson said in an email that NYSERDA hopes that the BOEM will expedite the process while committing to a "full and responsible review" and that the state remains committed to its offshore wind targets.

Clint Plummer, vice president of development at Deepwater Wind, said the later auction date should not affect the state's solicitation for 800 MW of offshore wind by the end of 2019. New York can solicit offshore wind from existing leases for its short-term goals, though additional leases will likely be needed to reach the remainder of the 2,400 MW procurement goal.

Getting the green light for offshore wind leases takes time, Plummer said. Deepwater Wind's lease for its South Fork Wind Farm project went through a multiyear stakeholder engagement process that involved the developer, the BOEM and interested parties.

"These are big parcels of submerged land that's in the public trust and we fully support BOEM doing a thorough analysis of these locations," he said. "That's a good process. That type of process allows all the relevant parties to bring their doubts forward and make sure the sites that are leased are the ones most suitable for offshore wind development."