The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Wednesday announced eight draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore the U.S. central Atlantic coast for public review and comment.
The draft offshore wind areas cover approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware The areas' closest points range from about 19 to 77 nautical miles off the U.S. central Atlantic coast.
“As BOEM moves forward to identify wind energy areas in the central Atlantic, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including early engagement with Tribal governments, state and federal agencies and ocean users,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “We want to gather as much information and traditional knowledge as possible to help us identify Wind Energy Areas -- the offshore areas that are most suitable for commercial wind energy activities while having the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts.”
According to BOEM, the final WEAs may be further modified after incorporating feedback from government partners, ocean users, and stakeholders.
BOEM is seeking comment on potential conflicts with the draft areas, including with a potential U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) fairway for transiting vessels, commercial fishing, a NASA danger zone, and marine habitat areas.
BOEM said it planned to further explore the areas with the Department of Defense, USCG, NASA, and other ocean users, such as the fishing industry, to collect additional information that should be considered before finalizing the WEAs.
The next step in BOEM’s renewable energy leasing process offshore the U.S. central Atlantic coast is a 30-day public comment period starting Nov. 16, 2022. During the comment period, BOEM will hold virtual meetings to engage the fishing community and environmental organizations to gather more information on the WEAs and discuss next steps. These meetings will be open to the public.
BOEM said it would accept comments from Nov. 16, 2022, through 11:59 pm ET on Dec. 16, 2022.