NOIA: Central Atlantic WEAs welcome news for US coastal states
(WO) — The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on Wednesday announced eight draft Wind Energy Areas offshore the U.S. central Atlantic coast for public review and comment, drawing praise from the National Ocean Industries Association.
The draft WEAs cover approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, with their closest points ranging from approximately 19 to 77 nautical miles off the U.S. central Atlantic coast. A map of the draft WEAs can be found on BOEM’s website.
The draft WEAs cover approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, with their closest points ranging from approximately 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.”
The BOEM said it used a comprehensive process to identify the potential offshore locations that appear most suitable for renewable energy development, taking into consideration possible impacts to local resources and ocean users.
NOIA President Erik Milito issued a statement after the BOEM announcement that described growing offshore wind opportunities in the area, noting that coastal states will reap jobs and investments and have a chance to become part of “the next wave” offshore wind hubs:
“While these states will clearly benefit tremendously from jobs and investment associated with offshore wind development, the benefits will stretch across our nation,” Milito said. “Offshore wind is a national endeavor with national benefits; the more offshore wind leases and the greater the geographical diversity of new American offshore wind projects, the greater the benefits will be to the national supply chain.”
The eight draft WEAs represent a subset of the original 3.9 million acres of the Call Area that the Department of the Interior announced for public comment in April 2022.
“NOIA successfully advocated for language in the Inflation Reduction Act to overturn the 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing in the area stretching from North Carolina down through the Eastern Gulf of Mexico,” Milito said. “The $315 million Carolina Long Bay offshore wind lease sale shows how attractive the region is for offshore wind investments. Today’s announcement will allow North Carolina and other coastal states to keep wind momentum going."
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 intends to further explore these 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.