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BOEM Moves Ahead with Offshore Wind Projects on Both Coasts

US offshore wind Atlantic Paciifc coasts
(file photo)

Published Jul 30, 2021 2:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The United States is working to advance offshore wind projects on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts in an effort to meet the Biden Administration’s aggressive targets to generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. This week, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced the next steps designed to advance what could become the first wind farms on the West Coast located off California as well as for the first project proposed for offshore from North Carolina on the East Coast.

California

The Departments of the Interior and Defense along with the state of California reached an agreement in May 2021 to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California. BOEM is now taking steps to build on those agreements and move forward with two areas that were targeted for offshore wind development.

“While we are still in the initial stages of BOEM's leasing process, today's announcement reflects years of working with ocean users, Tribal governments, and local, state, and federal agencies to obtain the best available information to reduce potential conflicts,” said BOEM Acting Pacific Region Director Thomas Liu. “The Morro Bay Call and Humboldt Environmental Assessment offer important opportunities to further solicit feedback from Tribes, ocean users and stakeholders.”

For the location in central California, BOEM will publish a Call for Information and Nominations to request information from the public and determine industry interest in commercial offshore wind energy development for two new areas within a 399-square-mile area identified as the Morro Bay Call Area East and West Extensions. The new areas are adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area, originally identified by BOEM in 2018. The extension areas will be included in BOEM’s overall analysis of the Morro Bay 399 Area. There will be a 45-day public comment period.

For the location off northern California, BOEM has formally designated the Humboldt Wind Energy Area consisting of nearly 132,369 acres (206.8 square miles). In the next phase, they will proceed with an environmental review of this area, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The process will consider potential environmental consequences and consider project easements associated with each potential lease issued, and grants for subsea cable corridors through state tidelands. BOEM is also seeking public comments on what should be considered as part of the EA. 

North Carolina

BOEM started the process to conduct an environmental review of a proposed wind energy project offshore North Carolina. This project, if approved, would be the first to operate offshore North Carolina located near the border with Virginia. The project would make landfall in Virginia provided power to both states.

BOEM announced that it is beginning review of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) submitted by Kitty Hawk Wind for a commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project consisting of up to 69 total wind turbine generators, one offshore substation, inter-array cables, and up to two transmission cables that will make landfall in Virginia Beach. BOEM also intends to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. As part of BOEM’s environmental review, the agency must first identify what should be considered in the EIS, such as important resources and issues, potential impacts to the environment, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures. A 30-day public comment period is beginning and three public hearings were scheduled for August 2021.