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Wind turbines off of Block Island

Wind turbines at Orsted's Block Island wind farm off Rhode Island, one of two commercial offshore wind farms in the United States. Credit: PennyJack Creative/Shutterstock

BOEM Seeks Public Input on Offshore Wind Development Off New England

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1013
April 27, 2023

As part of the Biden Administration’s ambitious plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is seeking public input on possible commercial-scale wind energy development offshore Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein emphasized the importance of public engagement in determining suitable areas for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, where there are preliminary plans to deploy among the first floating wind turbines in U.S. waters. She noted that the agency is in the early stages of planning and leasing and is eager to engage with the public throughout the process.

Starting April 26, 2023, an Information and Nominations (Call) will be published in the Federal Register, kicking off a 45-day public comment period.

“The feedback that we have received prior to this announcement has been extremely valuable in informing the process and understanding the unique dynamics that the Gulf of Maine presents,” said BOEM Project Coordinator Zach Jylkka. “The success of BOEM’s commercial leasing process hinges upon continued public input, and we are fortunate that many passionate and knowledgeable individuals and organizations are willing to share their experiences and expertise to help shape these important outcomes.”

Following the close of the public comment period, BOEM will analyze the responses and consult with government agencies, Tribal representatives, and the Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to determine the suitability of the Call Area for offshore wind energy development.

In August 2022, the Department of the Interior issued a “Request for Interest” (RFI) to gauge commercial interest in obtaining wind energy leases in a 13.7 million-acre region of the Gulf of Maine. After analyzing the RFI area and considering public feedback, BOEM reduced the area under consideration to 9.8 million acres, marking a nearly 30% reduction. The final Call Area excludes approximately 160,000 acres to avoid conflicts with Georges Bank, a vital fishing ground.

BOEM has identified four specific areas for public input during the next review phase: Lobster Management Area I, Platts Bank, Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Restricted Areas, and the adjacent area along Georges Bank’s southern boundary. This is not an exhaustive list, but these are the areas that generated the most public interest.

BOEM will continue to solicit public feedback during the Gulf of Maine planning process for possible commercial leasing. The third Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting will take place next month in Bangor, Maine, providing an opportunity for the public to attend and engage in the discussion.

As part of its goal to increase renewable energy production on federal land and waters, the Biden Administration is targeting up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025, for waters including Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Carolinas, California, and Oregon. So far, BOEM has already held three offshore wind lease auctions, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore the Pacific Coast in California. A fourth lease sale has been proposed for the Gulf of Mexico, which will mark the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the region.

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