BOEM Opens Comments on Eight Offshore Areas with First Two Off Oregon
The U.S. Department of the Interior released details on two new areas for exploration of offshore wind farms including two along the Oregon coast as well an additional six areas off the U.S. East Coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will publish the information Friday, April 29, as a step toward designating the areas for development.
Scheduled to publish in the Federal Register, BOEM is released what is known as “Calls for Information and Nominations” for the possible leasing in areas that the bureau has determined to be suitable off the coast of Oregon and in the central Atlantic. The bureau said it has already consulted with various stakeholders regarding the sites and during the upcoming comment periods the public can submit relevant information on site conditions, marine resources, and ocean uses near or within the areas. Concurrently, wind energy companies can nominate specific areas they would like to see offered for leasing.
The Oregon Call, the first action of its type off the Oregon coast, requests information on two areas that together comprise approximately 1.1 million acres. Both areas, the Coos Bay Call Area and the Brookings Call Area, begin about 12 nautical miles from shore at their closest points, off the coast of central and southern Oregon.
BOEM is also seeking information on six distinct areas in the central Atlantic comprising almost 3.9 million acres. The closest point to the shore of the areas is approximately 20 nautical miles off the coast ranging between Delaware and North Carolina. Four of the areas are between 20 and 30 miles off the coast while two larger and deeper areas are being explored approximately 44 to 56 miles offshore.
This process allows BOEM to obtain information from and engage with ocean users and stakeholders as the bureau seeks to identify areas of least conflict for offshore leasing and wind energy development. This information will be used to define the area to be considered for offshore wind development leasing. In the past, BOEM has significantly narrowed or redrawn borders based on the comments it received during the review process to define other leases.
The publication of the information starts a 60-day public comment period that ends on June 28. The details and maps for the Central Atlantic and Oregon sites have now been posted on the BOEM website.
BOEM reports that it will consider the public comments and commercial nominations received in the process to analyze potential use conflicts before designating specific wind energy areas within the designated areas. It starts a multi-step process of environmental reviews before a specific lease area would be defined for competitive lease sales.
These new areas are a continuation of the Biden Administration’s efforts to develop 30 GW of offshore wind power generation capacity by 2030. The department has announced plans to potentially hold up to seven new offshore lease sales by 2025 in addition to the recent New York Bight auction completed in February. The next scheduled auction is on May 11 for two sites off the Carolinas coast.
Top photo is representative of Oregon coast showing Cape Arago Site (photo by Debbie Tegtmeier - CC BY SA 3.0 license)