A vast expanse of ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket could be leased for offshore wind energy by the end of 2013, according to a timeline laid out by federal officials Tuesday.
“We’re going to shoot to have that lease sale in that fall time period,” Maureen Bornholdt, renewable energy program manager for the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said during a public meeting in Boston.
The estimated time frame for leasing means that selected wind energy developers would have until about the end of 2018 to submit construction and operations plans and potentially an additional 20 years to produce wind energy from the leased areas, Bornholdt said. The leasing plan does not affect Cape Wind, the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm, which has already been awarded a lease by the federal government.
For Massachusetts, which under Gov. Deval Patrick set an aggressive goal of having 2,000 megawatts of wind energy — most coming from offshore — by 2020, the timing of the leasing process is a potential, if necessary, setback.
“It’s hard to speculate whether this will impact our goals,” Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokeswoman Krista Selmi said after Tuesday’s meeting.