The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has finalized three offshore Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in federal waters off the coasts of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, which could potentially support between four and eight gigawatts of energy production.
The three WEAs total approximately 356,550 acres. The first, known as WEA (A-2), is 101,767 acres and located 26 nautical miles (nm) from Delaware Bay. The second, WEA (B-1), is 78,285 acres and about 23.5 nm offshore Ocean City, Md. The third, WEA (C-1), is 176,506 acres and located about 35 nm from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, offshore Virginia.
“BOEM values a robust and transparent offshore wind planning process, which requires early and frequent engagement with Tribal governments, the Department of Defense, NASA, other government agencies, and ocean users” said BOEM Director Liz Klein. “We will continue to work closely with them, and all interested stakeholders, as we move forward with our environmental review.”
BOEM announced eight Central Atlantic draft WEAs in November covering approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware and requested public comment. The draft WEAs represented a subset of the original 3.9 million acres identified for public comment in April 2022 by the Department of the Interior.
BOEM said the final WEAs are in comparatively shallow water, and it may identify additional WEAs in deepwater areas offshore the Central Atlantic coast pending further study.
The finalized WEAs are the latest development in the Biden Administration’s pursuit to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.
Next month, BOEM will hold its first-ever offshore wind energy lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, auctioning two areas offshore Louisiana and Texas that were finalized in October 2022. The lease sales are part of a leasing path initiated by the Biden Administration in 2021 which involves holding up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025 in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Carolinas, California, and Oregon. Next month’s Gulf of Mexico lease sale will be the fourth under the Biden Administration, following a record-breaking sale offshore New York, one in the Carolinas, and the first-ever sale offshore the Pacific Coast in California.
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