Offshore Wind Development News: Gulf of Mexico Wind Energy Areas and Draft Environmental Assessment
By Lance W. Fontenot, Ph.D., PWS, Principal
Ian Voparil, Ph.D., Principal
Call to action: Two draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) were released by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for public comment on July 20, 2022. The WEAs are located off the coasts of Lake Charles, Louisiana and Galveston, Texas. Public comments will be accepted until August 19 and information for providing public comments can be found at https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-draft-weas.
A draft Environmental Assessment covering the two WEAs was also released on July 20. The assessment considers the potential impacts of site characterization activities (e.g., marine mammal surveys) and site assessment activities (e.g., meteorological buoys) required to take place following the issuance of leases. Public comments on the draft Environmental Assessment are also being accepted until August 19. Information on commenting is available at https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-draft-ea.
What do you need to know?
BOEM intends to have a lease auction for these areas in early 2023. Based on BOEM requirements, site assessment activities are to begin during the first year after leasing and continue until construction. Lessees are required to submit a site assessment plan (SAP) to BOEM for review and approval. The site assessment needs to address the metocean (physical meteorology and oceanography) characteristics of the areas along with geophysical, geotechnical, and biological surveys (live bottoms, hard bottoms, topographic features, fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, and birds). Depicted below is the timeline for offshore wind development from the area identification and leasing process through site assessment and construction and operations plan.
Integral has helped offshore wind clients on the East Coast with key elements of their site assessments and construction and operations plans including EMF, seafloor and benthic habitat assessment, and underwater sound. Learn more about Integral’s services for offshore wind development and how we can help navigate the development process: https://www.integral-corp.com/our-services/offshore-wind/.