On October 1, 2021, BOEM received an unsolicited research lease application from the State of Maine to construct an offshore wind energy array (“Research Array”) on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The Research Array would be located in federal waters, approximately 25 nautical miles from the mainland, and would consist of up to 12 floating offshore wind turbines within an approximately 10,000-acre (15 square mile) lease area.
- Maine Research Lease Application
- Additional information on Maine’s Lease Application (State’s website)
In reviewing Maine’s application, BOEM has determined that the State (specifically, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, or GOPIF) is legally, financially, and technically qualified to hold a renewable energy lease on the OCS. Upon receipt of an unsolicited lease application, regulations require that BOEM publish a request for competitive interest (RFCI) in the Federal Register (FR) to determine if there is competitive interest in developing a commercial wind energy project within the requested lease location. If there is commercial interest, the process moves into the competitive planning and leasing process. If BOEM determines there is no competitive interest, BOEM will publish that determination in the FR and begin negotiation of a research lease agreement with the State of Maine.
Regardless of the leasing pathway, competitive (commercial) or research, BOEM must also perform an analysis and conclude that the requested lease area is suitable for offshore wind development. As part of this analysis, and prior to issuing a lease, BOEM must complete a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis to assess the effects of leasing and site characterization activities. This typically takes the form of an Environmental Assessment (EA).