The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Program. This Act also created guidelines that inform BOEM's regulations for offshore wind, ocean wave, and ocean current energy.
So far, most renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf has been wind energy. For each state with the potential to harness wind energy, BOEM convenes a unique intergovernmental task force of federal agencies, state agencies, and tribes. This taskforce helps guide the project from planning through decommissioning. Taskforce meetings are open to the public.
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To date, BOEM has issued over a dozen commercial wind energy leases on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Locations include those offshore of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
The planning and analysis phase identifies suitable areas for wind energy leasing consideration. Stakeholders and government agencies engage in collaborative, consultative, and analytical processes. This is the phase when BOEM conducts environmental compliance reviews. BOEM also consults with tribes, states, and natural resource agencies.
BOEM grants offshore wind energy leases through either a competitive or a noncompetitive process. In a competitive bid, more than one party is interested in acquiring the lease for specific waters. BOEM will award the lease to the highest bidder above the fair market return, a minimum bid to provide the public a fair price. Once BOEM accepts a competitive bid, the lease holder must pay the bonus to ONRR. In a noncompetitive bid, a single party negotiates the lease amount with BOEM and is required to pay an acquisition fee.
Companies explore leased waters to locate suitable sites for constructing renewable energy infrastructure. During this phase, the lease holder also conducts surveys and studies of the site. Survey and study types can include avian, marine mammal, and archaeological.
The lease holder must submit a Site Assessment Plan. The Site Assessment Plan contains a detailed proposal for the construction of a meteorological tower and/or the installation of meteorological buoys. BOEM may approve, approve with modification, or disapprove of the Site Assessment Plan.
If BOEM approves the plan, the lease holder can begin the site assessment activities. During this period, companies pay rent to ONRR.
To begin development and production, the lease holder submits a Construction and Operations Plan to BOEM. BOEM conducts environmental and technical reviews. BOEM then decides whether to approve, approve with modification, or disapprove the plan.
During this period, ONRR collects annual rent from the lease holder. Once the wind facility produces energy, ONRR also collects an operating fee.
Prior to the end of the lease term, the developer must submit a plan to decommission the facilities.