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Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Finalizes Wind Energy Area in the Gulf of Maine

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on March 15 announced that it has finalized its designation of a Wind Energy Area in the Gulf of Maine.

The final WEA has the potential to support generation of 32 gigawatts of clean energy, surpassing current state goals for offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Maine: 10 GW for Massachusetts and 3 GW for Maine, BOEM said.

BOEM said it would publish a notice in the Federal Register on March 18 announcing its intent to prepare an environmental assessment of potential impacts from offshore wind leasing activities in the WEA.

The notice will initiate a 30-day public comment period. Another public comment period would occur if BOEM decides to move forward with a lease sale in the WEA.

The WEA totals about two million acres offshore Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, ranging from approximately 23 – 92 miles off the coast. A map of the Final WEA can be found here.

BOEM finalized the WEA after engagement with the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, Tribes, local residents, ocean users including the fishing community, federal government partners, and other members of the public.

Based on the feedback received about natural and cultural resources and current ocean uses, the WEA represents an 80% reduction from the area BOEM initially identified for possible leasing and a 43% reduction from the Draft WEA.  

“The resulting WEA avoids important areas for lobster fishing, North Atlantic right whale habitat, and other important fishing areas and habitats. Additionally, in response to initial conversations with Tribal Nations located within Maine, the WEA strives to avoid a majority of the historical and present-day fishing grounds of those Tribes,” the agency said.

Since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation's first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects.

BOEM has held four offshore wind lease auctions, which have brought in almost $5.5 billion in high bids, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and New Jersey and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

BOEM is exploring additional opportunities for offshore wind energy development in the U.S., including the U.S. Central Atlantic coast.

The Biden-Harris administration has set goals for deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy capacity by 2035.