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BOEM Proposes Fewer Turbines for Ørsted’s 924 MW Offshore Wind Project

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed its environmental review of Ørsted’s Sunrise Wind project. In the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), issued on 11 December, BOEM proposes an alternative layout for the offshore wind farm with fewer turbines.

With the final EIS now released and set to be published in the Federal Register on 15 December, BOEM expects to issue a Record of Decision (ROD) on whether to approve the project early next year.

Proposed to be built in the federal waters off Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, the Sunrise Wind offshore wind farm will connect to the grid in Holbrook, New York.

The project plan Ørsted and Eversource submitted for Sunrise Wind includes up to 94 wind turbines that make up the project’s installed capacity of 924 MW.

During its environmental review, BOEM developed a preferred alternative that includes 84 turbines, in response to comments from government partners, key stakeholders, and the public, and after considering project feasibility. The alternative accommodates the geotechnical feasibility of the project, reduces impacts on benthic habitat and Atlantic cod, and meets the energy needs of New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to BOEM.

“We carefully considered input from our government partners, key stakeholders and the public for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Sunrise Wind,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “This document represents a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the project and is another milestone in achieving President Biden’s ambitious clean-energy goals.” 

New York State selected the offshore wind project as part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA’s) inaugural competitive offshore wind solicitation in 2018.

At 924 MW, Sunrise Wind is the largest offshore wind farm yet that would be connected to New York’s electric grid.

The construction of the onshore substation for the wind farm, including work at the laydown staging areas, started this Summer, with plans for Sunrise Wind to be fully operational by 2025.

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However, this commissioning date is now uncertain for the 924 MW New York project as Ørsted recently said that Sunrise Wind, as well as the recently approved Revolution Wind, is expected to have “a new installation approach with a longer timeline”, due to supply chain bottlenecks and vessel availability issues.

In its financial report for the nine months of 2023 published on 1 November, Ørsted also noted that further adverse development of Sunrise Wind could lead to ceasing this US project as well, after the developer cancelled its Ocean Wind projects in New Jersey.

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After being selected in New York’s 2018 solicitation, Ørsted and Eversource signed a 25-year OREC agreement with NYSERDA with an OREC strike price of USD 110/MWh.

This summer, the developer filed a petition with the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) seeking price adjustments to the contract that would increase the OREC price by 27 per cent to USD 140/MWh, with the request denied in October.

In November, Ørsted said that it would have an opportunity to rebid the Sunrise Wind project in the accelerated solicitation that the State of New York announced following its third procurement, and at a bid price level reflecting the current component and financing costs.

NYSERDA launched expedited solicitations for offshore wind and land-based renewable projects at the beginning of this month.

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In the call for proposals, NYSERDA encouraged all project developers, including those that previously petitioned the New York State Public Service Commission for financial relief, to compete in the solicitation process.

Final proposals for the offshore wind solicitation will need to be submitted by 25 January 2024, with award announcements expected to be made in February 2024.


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