BOEM finalizes three Wind Energy Areas off Delaware, Maryland and Virginia

Published on August 02, 2023 by Chris Galford

© Shutterstock

Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) with the potential to support between 4-8 GW of renewable energy were finalized by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) this week, opening development options offshore Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

Combined, these areas span approximately 356,550 acres, with the largest offshore Virginia, at 176,506 acres. That one is also located the furthest from shore, at about 35 nautical miles. The 101,767 acres site off Delaware is located 26 nm from Delaware Bay, while the 78,285 acre site off Maryland is located 23.5 nm out. Sites were selected and developed following engagement and feedback from states, Tribes, federal government partners and other stakeholders.

The next step is an environmental assessment of potential impacts from offshore wind leasing. That kicked off this week with the publication of a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register, launching a 30-day public comment period. Another would follow if BOEM moves forward with a lease sale in any WEAs.

“BOEM values a robust and transparent offshore wind planning process, which requires early and frequent engagement with Tribal governments, the Department of Defense, NASA, other government agencies, and ocean users,” BOEM Director Liz Klein said. “We will continue to work closely with them, and all interested stakeholders, as we move forward with our environmental review.”

Each area was assisted in creation by an ecosystem-based ocean planning model co-developed by BOEM and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). The model drew from data on natural resources, ocean industries such as fisheries and areas of national security activities to identify areas with high wind energy resources potential and limited impacts to other ocean users or resources.