Central Atlantic Offshore Wind Proposed for Offshore Delaware, Maryland, Virginia
On December 11, 2023, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced the proposal of an offshore wind lease sale in the Central Atlantic that includes one area offshore the States of Delaware and Maryland, and one area offshore the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Lease Area A-2 consists of 101,443 acres and is approximately 26.4 nautical miles (nm) from Delaware Bay. Lease Area C-1 consists of 176,505 acres and is approximately 35 nm from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas should be offered in a lease sale next year. These areas have the potential to power over 2.2 million homes with clean energy.
To select the final Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to develop a comprehensive, ecosystem-based ocean planning model.
In July 2023, BOEM announced three Central Atlantic Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), while indicating that WEA B-1 still needed more study.
Note that the proposed sale notice issued on Dec. 11 does not include WEA B-1, which is located approximately 23.5 nm offshore Ocean City, MD. BOEM has removed that WEA from this proposed lease sale due to the significant costs and mitigation that would be required. However, WEA B-1 may be considered as part of a potential second lease sale in the Central Atlantic, which could occur as soon as 2025.
The Proposed Sale Notice, which will publish in the Federal Register tomorrow, initiates a 60-day public comment period and contains information about the areas available for leasing, certain lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating competing bids and procedures for lease award, appeals and lease execution.
BOEM is seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of these potential stipulations include:
- Providing bidding credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry or a combination of both.
- Providing bidding credits to bidders that establish and contribute to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contribute to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts from offshore wind development in the Central Atlantic to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries.
In addition to the Dec. 11 announcement, BOEM is preparing a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts from lease issuance within the Central Atlantic WEAs. The publication of the draft EA is forthcoming and will be available for review and public comment.
More information on the Central Atlantic PSN can be found at BOEM’s website.
To date, the Department of the Interior has held four offshore wind lease auctions that have brought in almost $5.5 billion in high bids, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. BOEM has also advanced the process to explore additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the U.S., including in the Gulf of Maine and offshore Oregon, and has taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain.
Collaboration to Develop Maryland Offshore Wind Continues
Also on December 11, 2023, officials from the Department of the Interior, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, together with Maryland elected officials, announced a commitment to work jointly to evaluate additional areas off Maryland’s shores that could become wind energy areas (WEAs) and support the development of offshore wind projects pursuant to Maryland’s Promoting Offshore Wind Energy Resources Act, including consideration of how federal and state efforts could address any mitigation needed to address existing offshore activities.
Preliminarily, acreage off Maryland’s coast of a similar size and wind energy generation capacity to B-1 has been identified. This area will be analyzed more fully and collaboratively by BOEM, the State of Maryland, federal agencies and other stakeholders as a potential WEA, along with additional potential offshore wind areas all along the Central Atlantic coastline, for inclusion in a subsequent offshore wind lease sale as early as 2025.
This joint work builds on the ongoing work of the Central Atlantic Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, which includes Tribal, federal, state, and local government officials.
BOEM will continue to extensively engage government partners, local residents, ocean users, and other members of the public, consistent with process improvements announced last year to advance BOEM’s commitment to meaningful and transparent engagement and use of best available science and modeling to inform decisions on wind energy development. Additionally, through the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, this September a Memorandum of Understanding between federal agencies and East Coast states on Offshore Wind Supply Chain Collaboration was announced that includes work to develop a shared timeline on federal leasing and state procurement to facilitate alignment where possible between these schedules.
BOEM Completes Environmental Analysis for Proposed Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island’s Sunrise Wind
Also on December 11, 2023, BOEM announced that it has completed its environmental review of the proposed Sunrise Wind energy project, which is located approximately 16.4 nautical miles (nm) south of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., approximately 26.5 nm east of Montauk, N.Y., and 14.5 nm from Block Island, R.I. BOEM estimates the proposed 924-megawatt project will power more than 320,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.
The project plan submitted by Sunrise Wind LLC includes up to 94 wind turbine generators (WTGs) and their associated export cables. The onshore export cables, substation, and grid connection is located in Holbrook, N.Y. The lease area covers approximately 86,823 acres.
In response to comments from government partners, key stakeholders, and the public, and after considering project feasibility, BOEM developed a preferred alternative that includes fewer turbines (84 WTGs) to accommodate geotechnical feasibility of the project, reduce impacts to benthic habitat and Atlantic cod, and meet the energy needs of New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. BOEM considers all alternatives in the development of its final decision.
The “Notice of Availability for a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Sunrise Wind, LLC’s Proposed Sunrise Wind Farm Offshore New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island” will publish in the Federal Register on Dec. 15, 2023.
The EIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the activities laid out in Sunrise Wind’s construction and operations plan. The EIS is also available on BOEM’s website.
BOEM plans to issue a Record of Decision on whether to approve the project early next year, and, if so, identify any conditions of approval.
For more information on the Sunrise Wind project, go to BOEM’s website.