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 December 19, 2018
The U.S. just finalized the largest offshore wind sale in the nation's history

 The U.S. government just broke a record by leasing the rights to build new offshore wind power, in a deal reaching upwards of $405.1 million late last week. This is the most expensive offshore wind deal in the country's history. In a few years, a small region in New England could start producing enough electricity to power around 1.5 million homes, according to a new Utility Drive report.

The process started about a year ago, when two different turbine manufacturers---Statoil and PNE Wind---approached the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management with an offer to build new wind turbines in an area off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Because both companies were interested in the same area, the agency held an auction to determine who would get the rights.

Over the past week, that auction was held and 11 different companies participated. At the end of the process last Friday, three different companies made winning bids to develop offshore wind technologies. Equinor, Mayflower Wind, and Vineyard Wind each bid approximately $135 million for a lease on that part of the sea.

The three $135 million bids shattered the previous record for the largest offshore wind sale, when Statoil paid $42 million for the rights to develop off the coast of New York in 2016. In this case, three separate companies broke that record at once, which illustrates how attractive offshore wind has become in just a few years.

This auction is "a proxy for how exuberant the industry's feeling right now, and how bullish they're feeling about the prospects for offshore wind," Walter Musial of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory said to Utility Dive.

Now that the auction is over, the three winning companies can focus on actually building offshore turbines to supply power to the region. It's impossible to say just how much electricity will eventually be produced there, but estimates suggest that the area could support up to 4.1 gigawatts of electricity generation, enough to power more than a million homes.