Offshore Wind Process Moves Up Atlantic Coast

The long process of developing wind resources on the Outer Continental Shelf inched into Rhode Island and Massachusetts this month, as the Obama administration called on developers to identify possible lease locations. The agency overseeing the process, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), also invited public comment on the environmental impact of offshore wind-power development in the areas under consideration.

“This is a major step forward in our efforts to promote wind energy off the Atlantic Coast,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “We are seeking to determine commercial interest in the identified area and to collect information relevant to mitigating potential impacts to the environment that could result from these activities. This process will ensure that offshore wind projects are developed in the right way and in the right places.”

offshore wind power, Rhode Island, Massachusetts

image via Shutterstock

Earlier this year, the administration took this same step with potential offshore wind areas off the mid-Atlantic states of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. It’s all part of the administration’s “Smart from the Start” process for speeding development of renewable resources instituted by U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Currently, there’s nary a watt of power being generated from wind off U.S. coastlines, but the Obama administration has big plans to change that. The administration envisions a scenario that includes deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030.

A full fact sheet on the Rhode Island and Massachusetts announcement is available online as a PDF. Responses to the call for lease locations as well as environmental-impact comments must be submitted by October 3, and can be made by visting the BOEMRE website, clicking on the “Public Comment” link and following the instructions to submit public comments and to view supporting and related materials.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.