BOEM Finalizes Wind Energy Area in the Gulf of Maine and Announces Upcoming Environmental Review of Potential Offshore Wind Leasing Activities

Sub title
Area holds 32 gigawatts of clean renewable energy potential
Release Date
Washington, DC

In support of the Biden-Harris administration’s goals for deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy capacity by 2035, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced it finalized its designation of a Wind Energy Area (WEA) in the Gulf of Maine. The Final WEA has the potential to support generation of 32 GW 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 will publish a notice in the Federal Register on Mar. 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 extensive 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.  

"BOEM is committed to maintaining strong collaboration with the states of Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire as we advance our efforts in the Gulf of Maine," said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. "We remain dedicated to engaging with Tribal governments, federal and state agencies, ocean stakeholders, coastal communities, and all interested parties as we progress through our environmental review."

BOEM will seek to avoid or minimize remaining ocean use and resource conflicts in subsequent phases of the leasing process. BOEM will continue to consult with all Tribal Nations, the fishing industry, and other stakeholders who have an interest in the region to understand their concerns with potential offshore wind energy development within the WEA.  

During two rounds of analyses to produce the Draft and Final WEAs, BOEM leveraged the ecosystem-based ocean planning model designed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS). That model incorporates the best available data on Gulf of Maine natural resources, ocean industries like fisheries and energy production, and national security activities to identify areas with high wind energy resource potential and fewer potential impacts to other ocean users and sensitive environmental resources.  

This comprehensive approach provided valuable insights about the seascape and its uses and facilitated greater transparency and positive coordination with government partners and ocean stakeholders through direct engagement and incorporation of their feedback into the NCCOS model. See this video to learn more about the process.  

On Oct.19, 2023, BOEM announced a public comment period on the Draft WEA and three secondary areas for further analysis. BOEM held over a dozen virtual and targeted in-person meetings and received over 300 unique comments. After reviewing feedback from stakeholders and the public, BOEM worked with NCCOS on a refined model to further reduce the size of, and conflicts within, the Draft WEA before identifying a Final WEA.  

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 Department also continues to take steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic-based supply chain.

For more information about Gulf of Maine activities, visit BOEM’s website

-- BOEM --

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) manages development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) energy, mineral, and geological resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.