US Offshore Wind: After the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, the Central Atlantic States Are Next
On November 17, the United States identified eight offshore wind energy areas (WEAs) off the Central Atlantic states of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. The proposed WEAs will cover approximately 1.7 million acres, ranging from 19 nautical miles to 77 nautical miles off the Atlantic Coast. This follows from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) finalizing two WEAs in the Gulf of Mexico in October and the lease sales of five WEAs off the coast of California in early December covering approximately 370,000 acres.
On December 6 and December 7, BOEM held an offshore wind auction for areas on the Outer Continental Shelf off Central and Northern California. The lease sale drew competitive winning bids from 5 companies totaling approximately $751.1 million. To see the detailed results from the auction, visit the BOEM website.
The Central Atlantic states’ WEAs are up for a 30-day public review and comment period, which will end on December 16.
The public comment period is vital for determining the final WEAs, as these could be modified after incorporating feedback from various players in the industry. BOEM held virtual meetings with the fishing community and environmental organizations to gather more information on the WEAs. Additionally, BOEM is seeking comments on potential conflicts with the draft areas.
Once the final WEAs are set, and before deciding whether the leases will be issued, BOEM will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) under the National Environmental Policy Act. The EA will analyze the possible impacts from leasing within the final WEAs and from site characterization and assessment activities expected to take place after the leases are issued.