The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced on August 17 the initial steps to develop commercial wind energy on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) issued a “call for information and nominations,” which invites developers to identify locations within an offshore area in which they seek commercial leases for developing wind projects. BOEMRE is also seeking public comment on important environmental issues and reasonable alternatives related to the proposed leasing, site characterization, and assessment activities in the offshore area under consideration.
The announcement is the latest step in the “Smart from the Start” offshore wind initiative to facilitate renewable energy development offshore. The program aims to improve coordination with state, local, and federal partners, identifying and refining priority areas for potential development and conducting early environmental reviews. Four wind energy areas offshore of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia were identified in February this year, and BOEMRE expects to begin the commercial leasing process in those states as early as 2012. Potential wind energy areas will also be identified soon in additional states. All comments or other information should be submitted by October 3. See the lease description in the Federal Register, and a project fact sheet.