On December 12, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) hosted the first Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting at the University of New Hampshire. This meeting was the kick-off for the new Task Force, which includes members of state agencies, state and local officials, and tribal representatives from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Governor Sununu opened the meeting and expressed great interest and enthusiasm for the Task Force’s work and the future of the offshore wind industry in the Granite State. Furthermore, the meeting was standing-room only, demonstrating the deep interest of stakeholders and members of the public in offshore wind energy.
Clean Energy NH was present at the Task Force Meeting and has compiled some highlights below. If you missed the meeting or want to learn more about any of the items described below, BOEM will be posting all of the day’s presentations online here: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-maine-intergovernmental-renewable-energy-task-force-meeting
The Task Force provides a mechanism for coordination with stakeholders. The purpose is to provide a platform for information exchange, as the Task Force is neither a decision making nor approval body. A final charter will be finalized and released after January 3rd.
The process for offshore wind energy development is as follows, with approximate length of time for each stage of the process:
· Planning & Analysis (up to 2 years)
· Leasing (1-2 years)
· Site Assessment (approximately 5 years)
· Construction & Operation (2 years)
Activities involved during these phases include identifying lease areas, environmental review, sale notices, comments, and auctions, site characterization surveys and site assessment plans, and engineering reports. See BOEM’s presentation for a helpful chart describing each phase, the associated work to be completed during each phase, and sample time frames.
This means New Hampshire could see offshore wind projects in approximately 10 years. However, the state has the ability to prepare and benefit from economic development in the very near future through offshore wind supply chain development.
Representatives from New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts presented on each state’s renewable energy goals and perspectives on offshore wind development. Agencies in New Hampshire that are very involved in offshore wind include the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, and representatives from many others are involved with the Task Force to ensure economic and environmental interests are well-represented.
All meetings of the Task Force are open to the public, who were permitted to state comments during a portion of the meeting. Stakeholders representing Eversource, IBEW, commercial fisherman, and climate advocates expressed their views. Comments were overwhelmingly positive although a few stakeholders expressed concern and caution for how development could impact fishing interests and wildlife. An important resource for offshore wind environmental impact literature is called “Tethys” and can be accessed at https://tethys.pnnl.gov/institution/boem-office-renewable-energy-programs
The meeting continued with presentations from Task Force members including the Navy, Coast Guard, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Coastal Zone Management, Northeast Regional Ocean Council, New England Fishery Management Council, and Responsible Offshore Development Alliance. Information was also presented by the U.S. Department of Energy.
The next meeting of the BOEM Task Force has not yet been scheduled. Clean Energy NH will send an update when the next meeting is scheduled, and we encourage our members and supporters to attend meetings if they are interested in offshore wind!