The public comment period for an “area of interest” for offshore wind energy development south of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket closed on April 18th with some 250 comments submitted. Among them was a letter from Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr. asking that the area be slashed to less than half it’s original size in order to accommodate important fishing grounds and fish habitats, as well as shipping lanes.
Federal officials with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcemtn (BOEMRE) announced Monday that they have heeded that call and decided to reduce the area by approximately half, although they said the area has not yet been finalized. The requested changes are shown below:
“We have heard significant concerns from the people of Massachusetts and we have acted on those concerns,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “BOEMRE is committed to continuing the public engagement process as we look to identify the potential areas for offshore energy development in the federal waters south of Massachusetts.”
Secretary Sullivan welcomed the move, saying he was pleased BOEMRE had agreed with the proposed changes which he described as being “based on best available science and feedback from industry stakeholders.”
“This solution will safeguard one of the commonwealth’s most important traditional economic sectors — commercial fishing — and protect other marine habitat and shipping interests while providing ample opportunity for Massachusetts to become the hub of America’s brand new, job-rich, offshore wind energy industry.”
Sullivan said that the reduced area could still host the promised 4,000 Megawatts of renewable energy production. BOEMRE has received 11 expressions of interest from 10 developers. Those proposals – some of which include newly eliminated areas – are being reviewed by BOEMRE officials.