His was a big week for offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. BOEM advanced two offshore wind leasing processes in the Gulf of Maine by announcing a Call for Information and Nominations for commercial development and a Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental assessment for the State of Maine’s proposed research lease.
And while these two BOEM actions are the focus of this piece, recent legislative activity in Maine should also be noted. The language of a floating offshore wind procurement bill was printed yesterday. The bill—now on its way to the state legislature’s Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technologies—calls for staggered floating offshore wind procurements, beginning in 2025, leading up to a total of 2,800 MW by 2035.
BOEM Issues Call for Information and Nominations for Gulf of Maine, Advances Commercial Development
On April 25, BOEM announced that it published its Gulf of Maine Call for Information and Nominations in the Federal Register. The call “invites public comment on, and assesses interest in, possible commercial wind energy development areas” in the Gulf of Maine and represents the next step in BOEM’s commercial wind energy leasing process initiated last year.
In the announcement, BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said:
“BOEM is committed to transparent, inclusive and data-driven processes, and public input is essential to helping us determine areas that may be suitable for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine.”
Results from the Call for Information and Nominations will be used to identify the level of commercial interest in the Gulf of Maine. The information will also be used to identify Wind Energy Areas for environmental analysis and consideration for leasing. If BOEM decides to proceed with a competitive lease sale within those areas, BOEM will publish a Proposed Sale Notice in the Federal Register and provide a 60-day comment window. BOEM may then opt to offer lease areas through a competitive sale process by publishing a Final Sale Notice in the Federal Register at least 30 days before the date of a lease sale.
Nominations and comments in response to the call can be submitted through the Federal Register until June 12, 2023.
BOEM Issues Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Maine Offshore Wind Research Array
On May 4, BOEM announced that it intends to conduct a review of potential environmental impacts associated with the research lease application submitted by the State of Maine for an Offshore Wind Research Array in the Gulf of Maine.
The notice of intent was published by BOEM in the federal register, where the public has an opportunity to offer comment on environmental issues that the agency should consider in conducting its environmental assessment. The public can submit comments through the register until June 5, 2023.
This announcement represents the agency’s next step in processing the state’s research lease application, following the agency’s issuance of a Determination of No Competitive Interest for the State of Maine’s research application in March 2023.
We expect more information on next steps on the Gulf of Maine commercial leasing process and Maine’s research lease application following the next Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting, slated for May 10-11.