Offshore wind siting
Offshore wind is on the verge of explosive growth, with 27,000 MW of potential in the federal lease areas the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has auctioned on the East Coast. State policies drive the market, but BOEM must permit proposed projects. This process requires cooperation from a variety of federal agencies and engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management drives the offshore wind siting and permitting process for projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.
The overwhelming majority of offshore wind projects will be built in federal waters, which means BOEM has jurisdiction over their siting and permitting.
BOEM regulates offshore wind development from project conception through construction and operations. Along the way, it considers all potential impacts offshore wind buildout could have, from effects on other ocean users like commercial fishermen and the maritime industry to influences on marine life, coastal communities, and tribes. Stakeholders and other interested parties have ample opportunities to share their views on these issues through BOEM’s many public comment periods, intergovernmental task forces (state, local, and tribal governments and federal agencies), and stakeholder meetings and hearings, among other venues.
During the siting and permitting process, BOEM:
- Determines where offshore wind projects can and cannot be built.
- Conducts environmental reviews, in cooperation and consultation with other federal agencies, and solicits input from the public through comment periods and hearings to designate wind energy and lease areas in federal waters.
- Following feedback from stakeholders, leases these areas at auction to interested parties, who bid on the rights to develop the lease area.
To date, these auctions have added hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the federal treasury.
Following a lease auction, BOEM:
- Reviews and approves site assessment plans.
- Conducts environmental impact studies, in cooperation and consultation with other federal agencies, and solicits public comment through comment periods and hearings on a project’s Construction and Operation Plan.
- Issues final approval of projects.
- Continues to monitor a project through the term of the lease and through decommissioning, including conducting any additional environmental and technical reviews.
Input from the public is a critical part of this process in order to ensure co-existence and responsible development.
This process has worked well so far, but further action is needed to realize America’s full offshore wind potential. ACP believes BOEM needs to:
- Promptly initiate and conduct environmental review and begin issue final permits so offshore wind projects in the development pipeline can begin construction and come online.
- Identify more offshore wind energy areas and hold lease auctions, as states continue to increase their offshore wind targets and commit to large investments, and companies are eager to enter the offshore wind market.
More fully harnessing the world-class wind resources off our coast could create 83,000 jobs by 2030, spur a new domestic supply chain, and attract $57 billion of investment into the U.S. economy.
Offshore wind is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
Two million acres of federal waters in the New York Bight, California, North Carolina and South Carolina could be auctioned for commercial leases in 2021, and areas in the Gulf of Maine and in California could be auctioned in 2022. This activity could generate over $1.5 billion in U.S. Treasury revenue.
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