U.S. Sold Site Off Coast of Rhode Island, Massachusetts
July 31, 2013, 7:32 p.m. ET
By RYAN TRACY
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Interior Department raised $3.8 million Wednesday from the first-ever competitive auction of a federal site for an offshore wind farm, in a step toward the development of several of the power plants along the East Coast.
Deepwater Wind LLC of Providence, R.I., beat out two other bidders in what Tommy Beaudreau, director of the department's offshore-energy office, said was a "very robust and competitive sale."
The auction for the right to build off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts raised more money than expected, although only three of the nine companies that had previously expressed interest actually submitted bids.
Deepwater Wind had been chosen by Rhode Island as the preferred developer for the area, giving it an inside track because it qualified for a roughly 20% discount on the leasing costs, according to Jeffrey Grybowski, the company's chief executive. The other bidders were US Wind Inc. and Sea Breeze Energy LLC.
The final price "just ended up being much more expensive than I ever thought it would," said Dan Renshaw, Sea Breeze's chief executive, in an interview.
US Wind couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Interior's Mr. Beaudreau said the results were preliminary but expected to be final soon.
There are currently no large-scale offshore wind farms in the U.S. Mr. Grybowski said in an interview that the site up for auction Wednesday "is in our opinion the best offshore wind site in the United States" because the wind blows strongly and it's close to major population centers.
Mr. Grybowski said his company could have turbines spinning in the area by 2018, factoring in time for seeking permits and customers for the power. The company has a smaller project near Rhode Island's Block Island that isn't in federally overseen waters and co