Three Key Points Emerge from BOEM Offshore Wind Listening Session

On Wednesday immediately preceding the opening of the 2017 International Partnering Forum, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held a listening session to gather input from stakeholders about where to open up potential areas for offshore wind area leases.

Walter Cruikshank, acting director for BOEM, opened the session by praising the companies involved in the development of the Block Island Wind Farm for getting steel in the water.

“We think it indicates what is coming in the days ahead, particularly on the Outer Continental Shelf,” he said.

Today there are 13 existing leases on the U.S. East Coast. These extend from North Carolina to Maine. All in, companies such as DONG, US Wind, Statoil and others have paid more than $60M for the leases, which gives them the right to develop them as long as they are able to obtain all other necessary permits to begin construction.

BOEM intends to open additional lease areas in the future and held the listening session in order to gather input on the criteria it is using to evaluate three areas that it has identified. These areas span between Nantucket, Mass., and New York; North and South Carolina; and Delmarva and New Jersey.

The factors that BOEM used included:

  1. Visual impacts were limited > 10 nautical miles from shore
  2. No DoD constraints
  3. Little to no navigation constraints from TSS, also use AIS data
  4. Suitable for bottom-foundation technology so less than 60 meters
  5. Active state engagement (at least a task force in place)
  6. Market incentive/offtake legislation
  7. The area hadn’t ever been ruled out from a previous lease offering
  8. The industry has expressed interest. (perhaps through unsolicited applications)

The main sticking point that emerged from the listening session was that BOEM should not rule out floating technology (item 4). BOEM was under the impression that floating wind technology (the technology that would need to be used in deeper waters beyond 60 meters) was too expensive and not viable but the industry stakeholders in the room were not in agreement and asked BOEM to consider lease areas up to 90 meters.

Another point that emerged from the meeting was that DOE should take into consideration wind speed and economic viability when issuing leases.

Finally, the industry suggested that state task forces are not as effective as regional task forces would be because often stakeholders, such as fisheries, cross state lines, and what may be acceptable to one group of fisherman in a state might be objectionable to others, who fish in the same waters.

BOEM will continue to study the waters and is expected to hold more public listening sessions at other events throughout the U.S.

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Lead image credit: NHD-INFO | Flickr

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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