BOEM unveils draft wind energy areas in the Central Atlantic

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: 17/11/2022 BOEM

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced eight draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore the U.S. central Atlantic coast for public review and comment.  

The draft WEAs cover approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, with their closest points ranging from approximately 19 to 77 nautical miles off the U.S. central Atlantic coast.

“As BOEM moves forward to identify wind energy areas in the central Atlantic, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including early engagement with Tribal governments, state and federal agencies and ocean users,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We want to gather as much information and traditional knowledge as possible to help us identify Wind Energy Areas -- the offshore areas that are most suitable for commercial wind energy activities while having the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts.”

BOEM stated its process to identify the potential offshore locations that appear most suitable for renewable energy development, took into consideration possible impacts to local resources and ocean users. BOEM collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to use an ocean planning model that seeks to minimise conflicts.

The eight draft WEAs represent a subset of the original 3.9 million acres of the Call Area that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in April 2022.

The final WEAs may be further modified after incorporating feedback from government partners, ocean users, and stakeholders. BOEM is seeking comment on potential conflicts with the draft areas, including with a potential U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) fairway for transiting vessels, commercial fishing, a NASA danger zone, and marine habitat areas.

BOEM intends to further explore these areas with the Department of Defense, USCG, NASA, and other ocean users, such as the fishing industry, to collect additional information that should be considered before finalizing the WEAs.

The next step in BOEM’s renewable energy leasing process offshore the U.S. central Atlantic coast is a 30-day public comment period starting 16 November 2022. During the comment period, BOEM will hold virtual meetings to engage the fishing community and environmental organizations to gather more information on the WEAs and discuss next steps. These meetings will be open to the public.

BOEM aims to support theUS government's national goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and has issued 25 active commercial offshore wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

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