U.S. senators from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are urging the Biden administration to use caution in its approach to offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. The senators expressed support for two studies in the Gulf of Maine that BOEM is scheduled to launch this year: one establishing an “ecological baseline” for the Gulf of Maine and another to determine data gaps for research into natural resources in the Gulf of Maine.
Government Policy & Regulation
The purpose of this public notice is to: (1) Describe the proposal submitted to BOEM by the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) to acquire an OCS lease for wind energy research activities; (2) solicit indications of interest in a renewable energy lease in the area identified by DMME for substantially similar wind energy activities; and (3) solicit public input regarding the proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located.
This study created a framework for understanding what is required of a wind turbine installation vessel (WTIV) on the East Coast from technical and financial perspectives.A pipeline of wind farm projects was based on offshore wind development areas identified in New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. This pipeline provided a framework to define physical parameters such as number, size, and weight of turbines; water depth; and type, size and weight of the foundations.These parameters fed into a study to define an installation methodology and a set of functional requirements for the installation vessels using both a feeder barge and a transit unit transportation option. Based on these functional requirements, designs were finalized and estimating packages were sent to U.S. shipyards. Indicative prices of $87 million (feeder barge) and $222 million (WTIV) were received for Jones Act compliant vessels. Operational expenses were estimated assuming the vessels were U.S. flagged.This pipeline of work and cost data was used to create a basic cash flow model from the perspective of a vessel owner. Based on this model, at least 10 years of work, or a pipeline of approximately 3,500 to 4,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, would be required by a WTIV owner to provide a reasonable combination of day and internal rates of return.This will require that a group of states and developers coordinate on an identified pipeline of projects. However, if the full potential of the offshore wind areas on the East Coast is realized, including areas not considered in this study, several vessels may be justified.
On March 30, 2018, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced its Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) submitted by Vineyard Wind LLC (Vineyard Wind) that would allow it to construct and operate an 800 megawatt (MW) wind energy facility offshore Massachusetts.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has coordinated on behalf of the State all the work being conducted by New York State agencies in the development of offshore wind resources. As part of its leadership role, NYSERDA spearheaded the development of the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan, a comprehensive roadmap that encourages the development of offshore wind in a manner that is sensitive to environmental, maritime, economic, and social issues while addressing market barriers and aiming to lower costs.
Maine Gov. Paul R. Lepage has issued an order establishing the Maine Wind Energy Advisory Commission to study economic impacts of potential wind turbines, assess the economic impact of expedited wind rules and procedures, and develop recommendations in a written report. Until the report is issued in writing, no permits related to wind turbines are permitted. The order notes that "the scenic vistas and pristine waters of Western Maine, our coast and coastal islands, and our significant avian migratory pathways attract significant tourism to the State."