Interior Department Prepping Update of Rules for Offshore Wind
WASHINGTON — The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has updated its regulations for wind energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf and is poised to publish the proposal in the Federal Register as soon as this week.
Laura Daniel-Davis, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for Land and Minerals Management, signed the notice of proposed rulemaking on Jan. 10.
According to the bureau, the proposals would “modernize regulations, streamline overly complex and burdensome processes, clarify ambiguous provisions and enhance compliance provisions in order to decrease costs and uncertainty associated with the deployment of offshore wind facilities.”
All told, the proposed reforms are expected to save developers roughly $1 billion over the next 20 years.
The regulations being updated — among the first intended to guide U.S. offshore wind farm development — are now 13 years old.
Since then, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has conducted 11 auctions and is actively managing 27 commercial leases.
Based on this experience, department officials said, the agency has identified opportunities to improve its regulations in eight key areas:
- Eliminating unnecessary requirements for the deployment of meteorological buoys.
- Increasing survey flexibility.
- Improving the project design and installation verification process.
- Establishing a public Renewable Energy Leasing Schedule.
- Reforming BOEM’s renewable energy auction regulations.
- Tailoring financial assurance requirements and instruments.
- Clarifying safety management system regulations.
- Revising other provisions and making technical corrections.
In the past two years, the Interior Department has approved the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects.
It has also held three offshore wind lease auctions — including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore California’s west coast — initiated environmental review of ten offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Mexico, Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic.
By 2025, the department plans to potentially hold up to four additional offshore lease sales and complete the review of at least 16 plans to construct and operate commercial, offshore wind energy facilities, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation.