WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Department of the Interior (DOI) has announced three major milestones to advance commercial offshore wind energy development.
The department will propose a lease sale for wind energy development in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas; initiate an environmental review of Mayflower Wind’s proposal for a commercial wind energy project offshore Massachusetts; and request information to further assess commercial interest in wind energy leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.
The DOI is seeking public input on all three proposals.
The DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is requesting public input on a proposed lease sale in federal waters in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas. BOEM will publish a proposed sale notice in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, 2021, which will kick off a 60-day comment period ending on 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 3, 2022.
The proposed lease area consists of about 127,865 acres (200 sq mi) and includes the majority of the Wilmington East wind energy area. BOEM requests public input on potentially dividing the proposed lease area into as many as three lease areas.
Mayflower Wind, a joint venture between Shell and Ocean Winds, has submitted a plan to construct and operate up to 147 wind turbines and up to five offshore power substations about 30 mi (48 km) south of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The proposed project has the potential to generate more than 2 GW of energy, which is said to be enough to power over 800,000 homes.
BOEM will publish a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, 2021, which will initiate a 30-day public comment period ending at 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1. During this time, BOEM will hold three virtual public meetings and accept comments to inform the preparation of the EIS. The meetings will be held on Nov. 10 at 5 p.m., Nov. 15 at 1 p.m., and Nov. 18, at 5 p.m. ET. The environmental review process is estimated to take about two years.
Finally, BOEM will publish a call for information and nominations (Call) to further assess commercial interest in, and invite public comment on, possible commercial wind energy leasing in a proposed area in the Gulf of Mexico. The bureau will publish the Call in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, 2021, which will trigger a 45-day period for public comment and submissions indicating interest in commercial leasing, ending on 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 16.
The Call Area consists of almost 30 million acres (46,875 sq mi) just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexico border.