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Regulators Identify Proposed Wind Energy Areas Along Central Atlantic Coast

November 28, 2022 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has identified eight areas along the central Atlantic coast that regulators believe would be prime locations for wind energy facilities.

The so-called “draft wind energy areas” being considered by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management cover approximately 1.7 million acres offshore North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware.

According to the agency, the individual areas are located anywhere from 19 to 77 nautical miles off the U.S. coastline.

“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 in a written statement.

“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,” Lefton added.

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.

The agency said 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 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 areas.

The agency is accepting public comment through 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Dec. 16, 2022.

To comment on the draft WEAs, go to regulations.gov and search for docket number BOEM-2022-0072. 

On a related note, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has also announced the availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Empire Wind energy project to be located off the New York state coast. 

This proposed 2,076 MW project, if approved, could provide power for at least 700,000 homes.

The Empire Wind DEIS can be found on BOEM’s website, and the public comment period will extend through 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 17, 2023. 

The proposal includes up to 147 offshore wind turbine generators, two offshore substations, two offshore electrical cable routes, up to three export cable landfall sites, up to three onshore electrical cable routes, and two onshore substations, providing connection to the existing electrical grid in Brooklyn and Long Beach, New York. 

The DEIS analyzes the potential environmental impacts of the project as described in the COP and several alternatives to the proposed action.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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