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Offshore Wind Update from Massachusetts DMF

As DMF’s role in offshore wind continues to evolve, the agency is committed to engaging fishery stakeholders in all phases of industry development. MA DMF works to minimize impacts during project siting and layout, participates in state and regional working groups to improve regional research efforts, contributes to preparation of federal guidelines for monitoring and fisheries compensation, and provides best management recommendations to state and federal agencies in response to developer permitting submissions. There are several offshore wind efforts currently underway offshore of Massachusetts. Here’s an update on recent activities:

Gulf of Maine Offshore Wind Energy Planning

In August, the Department of the Interior (BOEM) announced the Request for Interest (RFI) for the Gulf of Maine (GOM), the first step in the commercial leasing process. The RFI area consists of 13.7 million acres off the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine and covers most of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) within the Gulf of Maine. BOEM also announced a Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in response to Maine’s unsolicited research lease application.

Maine’s research lease is intended to inform future GOM commercial offshore wind development, including the deployment of floating offshore wind technology. Maine’s proposed research array, the nation’s first, including up to 12 floating wind turbine generators (WTGs) capable of generating up to 140MW, is located within a 10,000-acre lease area approximately 25 nautical miles offshore. Both the RFI and RCFI notices were published in the Federal Register on August 19, initiating separate 45-day comment periods. BOEM released an Issue decision on the RCFI requiring indications of interest in a commercial wind energy lease to include a conceptual Research Framework. The RFI and the RCFI are the first steps in the BOEM planning process to assess wind development in the GOM.

Southern New England

Cable installation in Nantucket Sound began in November for the Vineyard Wind 1 Project. Nearshore cable landfall activities begin just offshore of Covell’s Beach in Barnstable and will continue along the cable corridor across Nantucket Sound and through Muskeget Channel. Offshore construction is scheduled to begin in 2023. Geophysical and Geotechnical surveys are underway along the cable corridors for Vineyard Northeast in Lobster Management Areas 2 and 3, including Buzzards Bay. DMF continues to support EEA in hosting and administering the $15 million Vineyard Wind Fisheries Innovation Fund. The fund was established to help build a skilled offshore wind workforce, attract investment in infrastructure, and advance offshore e wind technologies while continuing to protect marine resources.

Three areas are leased by Orsted (formerly Deepwater Wind) and co-owned by Eversource: Sunrise, South Fork, and Revolution Wind. The South Fork Wind Construction and Operations Plan (COP) was approved in early 2022. Onshore construction has commenced, and offshore construction is scheduled to begin in spring 2023. Seabed preparation activities including displacing boulders from foundation locations and cable routes is underway. Cable protection mattresses have been installed at six cable crossings. Existing and new locations for relocated boulders are posted to Orsted’s Offshore Wind Farm Information for Mariners.  The public comment period for the Sunrise and Revolution Wind DEIS closed in October. Input received will inform the preparation of the Final EIS for both projects, expected in 2023. Revolution Wind contracted the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Marine Policy Center to draft an impact analysis of fishery impacts in MA and the Federal waters section of the export cable route. The report uses NOAA fisheries data and other supplemental data to estimate the average annual commercial landings generated in their lease area. Draft results were presented to the MA Fisheries Working Group in October. The final report is in development.

New England Wind’s COP was updated in 2022. Project DEIS is currently in preparation targeting a late 2022 to early 2023 public comment period. New England Wind 1 (NEW 1) and New England Wind 2 (NEW 2) export cables are proposed to come onshore in Barnstable. MEPA certificate for NEW 1 was obtained in 2022. Project permitting is ongoing at the state, regional, and local levels. The MEPA review of NEW 2 began in October. Geophysical surveys of the export cable route are expected to begin in March 2023.

Mayflower Wind is currently in the BOEM Environmental and Technical Review phase. A draft EIS is in development, with an expected public comment period expected to begin in early 2023. The export cables are proposed for Falmouth and Brayton Point in Somerset, MA.

Prysmian Projects North America, LLC submitted an Environmental Notification Form (ENF) and Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) to MEPA to construct a submarine cable manufacturing facility at Brayton Point in support of U.S. offshore wind development.

Other Developments

In June, BOEM, in consultation with NMFS and affected coastal states drafted fisheries mitigation guidance to help in advancing an initiative to establish a regional fund administrator for fisheries compensatory mitigation which would manage financial compensation for impacts from offshore wind development in the Atlantic Coast region. This effort focuses on supporting the BOEM Draft Fisheries Mitigation Framework to guide funds dispersal to impacted members of the fishing community through a fair, equitable, and transparent process across the region. Draft guidance is being revised based on public comments received. The issuance of a final guidance is currently in development.

In October, Crowley Wind Services submitted an expanded Environmental Notification Form (EENF) to develop a 42-acre offshore wind marshalling terminal in Salem. The site will be used to transfer assembled components to wind farms. Comments on the EENF are due the last week of November.

In October, NOAA Fisheries and BOEM solicited public comment on a draft strategy to minimize the effects of OSW development on North Atlantic Right Whales and their habitat. Public comments are being solicited through December 4. The strategy provides guidance for agencies to use to collaborate and improve science and information to support offshore wind development while protecting biodiversity and promoting ocean co-use. The draft strategy will also provide offshore wind developers with guidance on mitigation measures.

In November, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) filed suit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and other federal defendants in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts for summary judgment in its lawsuit over the approval of the Vineyard Wind 1 offshore wind energy project. The decision is pending.

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