BOEM moves on Statoil's Maine offshore wind project

Thursday, August 9, 2012

U.S. ocean energy managers announced today that they will start their review of the environmental impacts of a proposed deepwater floating offshore wind project off the Maine coast.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, or BOEM, announced today it is moving forward with an assessment of a project proposed by Statoil North America to build a full-scale demonstration project of floating wind turbine technology offshore Maine.  Located about 12 nautical miles offshore of Maine's midcoast region, BOEM describes the project as entailing 4 turbines with a net capacity of 12 megawatts. 

The E. Frank Thompson ferry steaming away from the Maine island of Vinalhaven, home to the Fox Island Wind project.  Statoil's proposed offshore wind project would be near Boothbay Harbor, about 45 miles southeast of Vinalhaven.
BOEM's announcement represents the next step in a process that began in October 2011 when Statoil filed an unsolicited commercial lease application.  That application requested a lease for about 22 square miles of ocean space for the project.  Statoil also responded to a request for proposals by the Maine Public Utilities Commission seeking deepwater offshore wind and tidal projects; if selected by the Maine PUC, Statoil could receive a long-term contract to sell the project's output at subsidized rates.

Following today's announcement, BOEM will publish a Request for Competitive Interest Notice in the Federal Register.  Through this document, BOEM will inquire whether other developers are interested in constructing wind facilities in the same area off the coast of Maine.  Whether other qualified developers respond will determine whether BOEM proceed with leasing on a competitive or non-competitive basis.  Once the request for interest is published, developers and other members of the public will have 60 days to submit indications of competitive interest or comments about potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed lease area.

BOEM will also publish a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the Federal Register.  Under federal law, the EIS will consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences associated with the Statoil project.  Once the notice is published, the public will have 90 days to submit comments on important environmental issues and reasonable alternatives related to the proposed leasing, site characterization and assessment activities, and construction and operation activities.  BOEM will use these comments to shape its environmental analysis and EIS.

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