BOEM Commences Regulatory Review of Eleventh Offshore Wind Farm Plan

US offshore wind farm reviews
The US is starting review of the eleventh offshore wind farm construction and operating plan (file photo)

Published Jun 29, 2023 7:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

U.S. regulatory announced today that they are commencing the review of the eleventh offshore wind farm plan as efforts continue toward the goal of deploying 30 GW offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. The process is expected to run for about a year and could lead to a two-phase project that could produce a total of 2,430 megawatts of wind energy powering over 850,000 homes.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is starting the next phase in the process for Beacon Wind, which is being developed in a joint venture between Equinor and BP. This review comes as the first two commercial-scale offshore wind farms planned for the United States also started building their offshore assets. The U.S. is expected to have its first large commercial wind farms operating by the end of 2023.

“BOEM is advancing the administration’s ambitious energy goals while remaining diligent in our efforts to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to ocean users and the marine environment,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. She notes that the environmental review process seeks input from government partners, the fishing community, and other ocean users and includes public comments.

The Beacon Wind lease area is approximately 17 nautical miles south of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and approximately 52 nautical miles east of Montauk, New York. The unique position means that the wind farm has the capabilities when completed to provide power to multiple locations in the Northeast United States. The current plan calls for the installation of up to 155 turbines, up to two offshore substation platforms, and up to two offshore export cables. They would make landfall in Astoria, in Queen County New York, and Waterford, Connecticut.

Beacon Wind submitted a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) to BOEM on June 5, 2023. The notice which will be published tomorrow, June 30, outlines meetings scheduled for the second half of July as the first step in the review process.

“We are pleased that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced its Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Equinor and BP’s Beacon Wind project. The NOI marks a significant milestone in Beacon Wind’s path toward regulatory approval. It also initiates a public review period that provides an important opportunity to gather feedback as the project progresses,” said Molly Morris, President of Equinor Renewables Americas which would be the operator for the site.

The lease was acquired in 2019 and the plan calls for a first phase, which is what is now progressing in the review process, that would generate 1.23 MW of power. The company’s published timeline anticipates that they could have regulatory approval in mid-2024 and first power in the late 2020s. The partners are currently evaluating offtake opportunities for the second phase. These two projects are in addition to the companies’ Empire Wind 1 and 2 proposed wind farms.

The wind farms will be supported by the development of manufacturing facilities at New York’s Port of Albany. Staging and assembly would be undertaken at the planned wind port redevelopment of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York City. The 73-acre site is slated to become one of the largest wind ports in the United States.

The Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts and the South Fork Wind project in New York both recently began their offshore construction phase highlighting that they had “steel in the water.” Boskalis is leading the installation at South Fork roughly 35 miles east of Montauk, N.Y. DEME is leading the work at Vineyard Wind, located 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. Both projects are scheduled to be completed late this year and begin generating power. They will continue to be rivals with each seeking to claim the title of first in the USA.