December 14, 2018 / 5:51 PM / a month ago

U.S. offshore wind lease auction ends with record $410 mln sale

Dec 14 (Reuters) - A U.S. government auction for three wind leases off the coast of Massachusetts ended on Friday with record-setting combined bids of $410 million, the agency that conducted the sale said.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said it would announce the provisional winners of the leases on a conference call later on Friday.

Combined, the three leases represent nearly 390,000 acres near the Massachusetts islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket and Rhode Island’s Block Island. It was not immediately clear whether a single company claimed all three or if there were more than one winner.

Two of the leases sold for $135 million each and a third sold for $140 million, auction activity on BOEM’s website showed. The auction, which began on Thursday, ended Friday morning after 32 rounds of bidding.

The same areas failed to sell at a 2015 auction, reflecting the industry’s changing view of the potential of the United States as a market for offshore wind.

The previous record paid for a U.S. offshore wind lease was $42.5 million by Norway’s Equinor, for nearly 80,000 acres off the coast of New York.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump is streamlining permitting for offshore wind and carving out new areas off the coast for leasing as part of its ‘America First’ policy to boost domestic energy production and jobs.

That dovetails with recent mandates in northeast states like New Jersey, Massachusetts and New York requiring utilities to procure offshore wind energy. (Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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