Commercial Wind Leasing Offshore Massachusetts
What’s New ?
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Notice of Availability (NOA) in the Federal Register on December 7, 2018 for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that was developed to determine whether to approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the Construction and Operations Plan (COP) submitted by Vineyard Wind LLC. The COP describes Vineyard Wind's proposed project which is to construct, operate, and decommission an approximately 800-megawatt (MW) wind energy facility offshore Massachusetts.
The publication of the NOA will open a 45-day public comment period which would close on January 22, 2019. During this time, BOEM will conduct five public meetings and accept comments. The input received via this process will be used to inform preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
For more information about the Vineyard Wind Project, please see: https://www.boem.gov/Vineyard-Wind/
The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires BOEM to award leases for renewable energy projects competitively, unless BOEM determines there is no competitive interest. On Dec. 29, 2010, BOEM published a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register to gauge commercial interest in wind energy development offshore Massachusetts. BOEM also invited the public to comment and provide information-including information on environmental issues and data-for consideration of the RFI area for commercial wind energy leases.
Wind Energy Area Offshore
The Massachusetts RFI area was delineated based on deliberation and consultation with the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force. The subsequent selection of a Wind Energy Area (WEA) was based on input received on this RFI area. Responding to requests received from the public and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, BOEM reopened the comment period for the RFI on March 17, 2011. The comment period ended on April 18, 2011.
BOEM received eleven indications of interest from ten companies wishing to obtain a commercial lease for a wind energy project. The company names and the OCS blocks they nominated can be viewed by clicking here. BOEM also received about 260 public comments in response to the RFI, which are available on regulations.gov. After careful consideration of the public comments, as well as input from BOEM's intergovernmental Massachusetts Renewable Energy Task Force, BOEM modified the planning area offshore Massachusetts and proceeded to publish a Call for Information and Nominations ("Call") in the Federal Register on Feb. 6, 2012 to identify locations within the offshore Call Area in which there was industry interest to seek commercial leases for developing wind projects. BOEM also published a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment of the Call Area.
The Call Area was located off the coast of Massachusetts beginning approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha's Vineyard and 13 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. It contains 826,241 acres and contains 132 whole OCS lease blocks as well as 19 partial blocks. Click on the links below to view maps of the Call area.
The comment period for the Call closed on March 22, 2012. BOEM received 32 comments and ten nominations of interest in response.
After considering the comments submitted in response to the Call, BOEM decided to exclude certain areas identified as important habitats that could be adversely affected if ultimately developed with the installation of wind turbine generators. Specifically, BOEM excluded an area of high sea duck concentration, as well as an area of high value fisheries to reduce conflict with commercial and recreational fishing activities.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory Assessment Report
The Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), under an interagency agreement with BOEM, provided technical assistance to identify and delineate leasing areas for offshore wind energy development within Wind Energy Areas on the Atlantic Coast. In December 2013, NREL submitted a report to BOEM that focuses on the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area. To access the report, click here.
Proposed Sale Notice
On June 17, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to announce that more than 742,000 acres offshore Massachusetts will be available for commercial wind energy leasing. The proposed area is the largest in federal waters and will nearly double the federal offshore acreage available for commerical-scale wind energy projects. For more information, click on the links below.
The Massachusetts Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) was made available for a 60-day public comment period, which closed on August 18, 2014. BOEM received 25 comments in response to the Massachusetts PSN, which are available here.
BOEM published a "Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the Atlantic OCS Offshore Massachusetts" in the Federal Register on February 6, 2012 under Docket ID: BOEM-2011-0116. The purpose of the EA is to consider environmental consequences associated with issuing commercial wind leases and approving site assessment activities in the Massachusetts WEA. If a lessee proposes development activity, the specific proposal will be given full environmental review (likely an Environmental Impact Statement) at that time.
On May 30, 2012, BOEM announced that, together with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, BOEM completed its identification of a (WEA) offshore Massachusetts. The WEA begins approximately 12 nautical miles south of Martha's Vineyard and 13 nautical miles southwest of Nantucket. From its northern boundary, the area extends 33 nautical miles southward to the 60 meter depth contour and has an east/west extent of approximately 47 nautical miles. The WEA is approximately 742,974 acres and contains 117 whole OCS lease blocks as well as 20 partial blocks. This entire area will be considered for leasing and approval of site assessment plans as the proposed action under the National Environmental Policy Act.
In the EA, BOEM then evaluated the potential environmental effects of lease issuance and approval of site assessment activities in the WEA which considered, among other things, potential impacts on endangered North Atlantic right whales and effects on viewshed. The EA also considered mitigation measures that could reduce potential impacts on these and other resources within the WEA.
On November 2, 2012, BOEM announced the availability of the EA for public review and comment. BOEM considered those comments and on June 4, 2014 BOEM made available a revised environmental assessment (EA) for the WEA offshore Massachusetts. As a result of the analysis in the revised EA, BOEM issued a "Finding of No Significant Impact" (FONSI), which concluded that reasonably foreseeable environmental effects associated with the commercial wind lease issuance and related activities would not significantly impact the environment. BOEM received 25 comments in response to the Notice of Availability, available through this link: https://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&so=DESC&sb=commentDueDate&po=0&dct=PS&D=BOEM-2012-0086. For more information, click on the links below:
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.
Final Sale Notice
On November 24, 2014, BOEM announced that it will publish a Final Sale Notice, which states a commercial lease sale (i.e., auction) was held January 29, 2015, for the Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore Massachusetts. The auction represents the fourth competitive lease sale for renewable energy on the OCS.
The WEA was auctioned as four leases (OCS-A 0500, OCS-A 0501, OCS-A 0502, OCS-A 0503).
Materials related to the Final Sale Notice are below.
The area available for auction is identical to the one announced in the Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) published in the Federal Register in June, 2014 for a 60-day public comment period. BOEM carefully considered public comments received during this time prior to developing the Final Sale Notice, as discussed in the Response to Comments above.
On Jan. 29, 2015, BOEM held a competitive lease sale (i.e., auction) for the Wind Energy Area offshore Massachusetts. The auction lasted two rounds. RES America Developments, Inc. was identified as the winner of Lease Area OCS-A 0500 (187,523 acres) and Offshore MW LLC was identified as the winner of Lease Area OCS-A 0501 (166,886 acres). The commercial wind energy leases were signed by BOEM on March 23, 2015, and went into effect on April 1, 2015. The executed leases are available below.
To access the Department of Interior's press release, click here. A summary of bidding results is provided here.
On May 14, 2015, BOEM executed an amendment to commercial lease OCS-A 0500 to correct Addendum "A" of the lease and update Section 20 of the lease. The amendment is available here.
On May 27, 2015, BOEM received an application to assign 100% of commercial lease OCS-A 0500 to DONG Energy Massachusetts (U.S.) LLC. BOEM approved the assignment on June 12, 2015. The approved assignment is available here. Note: DONG Energy has since renamed its American subsidiary as Bay State Wind LLC.
- Lease OCS-A 0500.
On June 29, 2017, The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the Site Assessment Plan (SAP) for Lease OCS-A 0500 (Bay State Wind). The SAP approval allows for the installation of two floating light and detection ranging buoys (FLIDARs) and one metocean/current buoy. For additional information, please find the approved SAP below:
Bay State Wind requested a 1-year extension for submitting it's SAP, which BOEM approved. The SAP was filed in December 2016, with revisions filed in March and April 2017. BOEM determined the SAP was complete on May 1, 2017.
Floating Light Detection
and Ranging Buoy (FLIDAR)
- Lease OCS-A 0501.
On May 10, 2018, The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved the Site Assessment Plan (SAP) for Lease OCS-A 0501 (Vineyard Wind). The SAP approval allows for the installation of up to two Fugro SEAWATCH Wind LiDAR metocean buoys. For additional information, please find the approved SAP below:
Vineyard Wind requested a 1-year extension for submitting its SAP, which BOEM approved. Vineyard Wind initially filed the SAP in March 2017, followed by revisions in July, October, and November 2017. BOEM deemed the SAP complete and sufficient on November 21, 2017
Construction and Operations Plan
Vineyard Wind submitted its COP in December 2017. BOEM will review the COP and approve, disapprove, or approve with modifications the proposed activities. This submission will initiate another round of environmental review and public comment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
At its nearest point, the project area is approximately 14 miles from the southeast corner of Martha’s Vineyard and a similar distance from the southwest side of Nantucket. Water depths where the turbines would be located range from approximately 37 to 49 meters (approximately 121 to 161 feet).
Construction and Operations Plan for Lease OCS-A 0501