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Feds to sell largest offshore wind energy area

Federal officials will hold an auction in January for the rights to build wind turbines off Massachusetts’s shore, the largest sale of its kind.

The 742,000-acre area is south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, and could provide up to 5 gigawatts of wind power, enough for 1.4 million homes, said the Interior Department, which manages federal offshore energy.

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“This will be our largest competitive lease sale to date for offshore wind energy development,” Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellNational parks pay the price for Trump's Independence Day spectacle Overnight Energy: Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone | UN report offers dire climate warning | Trump expected to lift ethanol restrictions Zinke extends mining ban near Yellowstone MORE said in a Monday statement, thanking officials from Massachusetts and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which is part of Interior.

“This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier,” she said.

Twelve companies have qualified to participate in the January auction, having gone through evaluations to ensure legal, technical and finance qualifications.

Interior will sell the area in four blocks of varying sizes.

The United States does not have any commercial-scale offshore wind power in operation, but Interior has made an effort in recent years to encourage its development, including by selling the rights to federal waters.

January’s sale will be the fifth competitive auction for offshore wind rights, including previous sales off the coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland and Virginia.

Interior has also sold the rights to two areas in non-competitive sales, including Cape Wind, near Massachusetts, which has been approved but for which construction has not started.