NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- The largest wind energy area on the Atlantic Coast has been announced and will be located in an area that's bigger than Rhode Island and will be auctioned as four leases.
However, there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the new area, including how many turbines there will be, how many jobs it will create, or what Massachusetts stands to benefit from this.
Standing inside the Wind Technology Testing Center in Boston, Governor Deval Patrick and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell say nearly 750,000 acres of federal waters will be available for commercial wind energy leases. It's a huge area, some 1100 miles, and it could mean turbines like the ones 12 miles off Martha's Vineyard and 13 miles off Nantucket.
"This area we are about to announce will be the largest wind energy area on the Atlantic coast," Jewell said.
Jewell says the Atlantic holds promise because it's windy and there's a lot of people who drive energy needs.
When asked how many turbines there will be, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said, "We won't know that until one of the companies, one of the developers on these leases comes in with construction operations planned."
Cruickshank says it all depends, on the size. When pressed further on the topic, he said, "There could be the potential in this area for a few hundred turbines, yes."
When asked what Massachusetts will get out of this, Patrick said, "Well one thing we stand to gain comes from the fact that we will have the only staging facility on shore in New Bedford to supply projects like this."
He says that has created jobs, and so FOX 25 asked for a number. Again, we were told, it depends.
"It depends entirely on what is proposed. Kinda goes back to Walter's earlier answer. These are commercial deals and the developers will decide what they think makes sense in terms of size and scale and scope," Patrick said.
When asked again what the benefit for the Commonwealth will be, Patrick said, "Here's the benefit. Right now our rates go up and down because we don't have any control over our source of generation. The more control we have over our source of generation, the more predictable our rates will be."
Officials want to have the lease sale before the end of the year. Public hearings are set for next week on Martha's Vineyard and also in New Bedford. Public comment will close in August.
Jewell said she believes lessons have been learned from Cape Wind, a project that has faced intense opposition for more than a dozen years.