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DISCLAIMER: This blog is published for general information only - it is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our authors, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you.

Entries in Offshore Wind (28)

Monday
Jul062015

Foundations for First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Head for R.I. 

The following was originally posted by Christopher Monroe on Verrill Dana’s Maritime Law Blog, Law on the Water Line: www.atlanticmaritimelaw.com.

Recent reports from the Associated Press indicate that massive steel foundations for the Nation’s first offshore wind project will soon leave fabrication facilities in Houma, Louisiana, destined for Block Island, Rhode Island. According to Deepwater Wind, the 5-turbine Block Island Wind Farm is scheduled to be online during the third quarter of 2016 and could supply most of Block Island’s power.

The full article can be read here.

Thursday
Jul022015

Wind Industry Service Operation Vessels Christened in Germany 

The following was originally posted by Christopher Monroe on Verrill Dana’s Maritime Law Blog, Law on the Water Line: www.atlanticmaritimelaw.com.

Siemens and ESVAGT A/S recently announced the christenings of two purpose-built Service Operation Vessels (SOV’s) specifically engineered to service and maintain offshore wind power plants. According to company literature, the christenings demonstrate ESVAGT’s ongoing commitment to transfer their maritime vessel competencies from offshore oil and gas to the somewhat younger offshore wind industry.

While ESVAGT owns the service vessels, Siemens provides their proprietary BlueDriveTM propulsion system to reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, as well as hydraulic systems to support the Amplemann active access gangway. The new vessels will purportedly revolutionize offshore wind service by increasing productivity, accelerating response times, and implementing advanced safety mechanisms that will allow turbine access in significant wave heights of up to 2.5 meters (8.2 ft), which is higher than the safety limits of traditional crew transfer vessels (CTV).

The recent investment in the purpose-built vessels reflects a global trend in the offshore wind industry to build wind facilities further offshore. The two recently-christened vessels will service the North Sea and Baltic Sea, while a third vessel will join the fleet in autumn 2016 and service wind facilities off the east coast of England.

Tuesday
Mar242015

BOEM Reviews Lease Request for Floating Wind Turbines off Hawaii

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is in the process of reviewing a lease request submitted by AW Hawaii Wind, LLC for two proposed 408 MW offshore wind power facilities, each consisting of 51 floating 8 MW turbines.  AW Hawaii Wind is a subsidiary of Denmark-based Alpha Wind Energy.

Last month BOEM determined that AW Hawaii Wind is legally, technically and financially qualified to hold a lease on the outer continental shelf.  BOEM’s next step is to determine whether there are competitive interests in the proposed lease area.  

The Oahu South Project is proposed to be located approximately 17 miles off the coast of Oahu in water depths of 300‐700 meters.  The Oahu Northwest Project is proposed to be located approximately 12 miles offshore in water depths of 700‐1,000 meters.  The floating turbines proposed for the project are based on Principle Power’s WindFloat design.   

One potential advantage these projects have over other offshore proposals is that Hawaiian electricity rates are already about twice as much as those of the next highest state (New York).  That means the incremental cost increase associated with offshore wind power would be relatively lower for Hawaii than for other markets, a fact that could make these projects more attractive to ratepayers and investors.

Tuesday
Mar182014

Cape Wind Court Remands on ESA Claims, Denies MBTA Claim

A federal district court has issued an 88-page split decision in the litigation challenging federal approvals of the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.  On Friday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment in favor of the federal defendants and developer Cape Wind Associates on all but two claims, rejecting numerous arguments advanced by a large group of project opponents that had been consolidated into one suit.  However, as a result of the plaintiffs’ success on those two claims, both of which were based on the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), the matter has been remanded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for further action before the Cape Wind project can go forward.

The Court found that FWS violated the ESA by not independently determining that curtailment of turbine operations was not a reasonable and prudent measure to require of the project.  The record contained the agencies’ reasoning behind not requiring curtailment (it would undercut the project purpose and scope by significantly reducing electricity generation), but the reasoning was attributed to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Cape Wind, not to FWS.  The Court found that the ESA requires FWS to make that determination independently.  This may be a case of form over substance, with the defect curable on remand by some wordsmithing. 

Potentially more problematic was that the Court found that NMFS violated the ESA by not issuing an incidental take statement related to endangered right whales.  NMFS found that the project was “not likely to adversely affect right whales and not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of right whales” but did not categorically state that take would not occur.  The Court held that, because incidental take “may occur,” NMFS was required to include an incidental take statement with its biological opinion.  The significance here is that, in the context of formal consultation, anytime take of a listed species “may occur,” no matter how unlikely, the Court has found that it is arbitrary and capricious not to issue an incidental take statement. 

However, perhaps of most significance to other wind power developers was the Court’s denial of plaintiffs’ claim that BOEM violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) by approving the Cape Wind project, even though it was acknowledged that the project, once operational, was likely or even assured to result in take of protected migratory birds.  The Court stopped short of finding that the MBTA never applied to an agency acting in a regulatory capacity, as in this case with BOEM approving the activity of a third party that would result in take of birds protected by the MBTA.  Rather, the Court found that there was not a sufficiently reasonable certainty that take under the MBTA would occur because the project has yet to be built, stating: “Even if the taking of migratory birds takes place at some point in the future, it is clear that no such taking has yet occurred and is not imminent at this point because construction of the Cape Wind project has not begun and the wind turbine generators that might take migratory birds are not operational.”

This is the second case in which a court has addressed the application of the MBTA to the federal approval of a wind power project.  This fall the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in Protect Our Communities Foundation v. Salazar rejected a similar MBTA claim by wind power opponents. 

Friday
Sep202013

Energy News Roundup: September 14-September 20

This week in regional energy news …

Friday
Aug022013

Energy News Roundup: July 27-August 2

This week in regional energy news …

Thursday
Aug012013

Deepwater Wind Wins Historic Competitive Lease Sale for Renewable Energy in Federal Waters

The U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has announced that Deepwater Wind New England, LLC is the provisional winner of yesterday’s first-ever lease sale for offshore wind energy.  The lease sale involved the auction of two leases for wind energy development in a Wind Energy Area off the shores of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, totaling 164,750 acres.  The Wind Energy Area is divided into two sub-areas, the North Lease Area (approximately 97,500 acres) and the South Lease Area (approximately 67,250 acres).  The high bid was $3,838,288, with three bidders submitting bids in 11 rounds of bidding.

The Wind Energy Area has the potential to support 3,395 MW of wind generation and once developed could generate enough energy to power more than one million homes.

On the heels of the first auction, BOEM will hold a second competitive lease sale for offshore wind on September 4, 2013, in which BOEM will auction almost 112,800 acres off Virginia’s shores.  Additional auctions for Wind Energy Areas offshore Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Jersey are expected to be announced later this year and in 2014.