The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released a Determination of No Competitive Interest for a proposed research lease area offshore Maine. This decision follows BOEM’s Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in the Gulf of Maine, which was issued last August. BOEM’s determination means it will move forward with the State of Maine’s research application, which could be used to inform any future commercial offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine, as well as the deployment of floating offshore wind technology nationwide.
On October 1, 2021, BOEM received an application from the State of Maine for a research lease requesting 9,700 acres on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf in a location more than 20 nautical miles off the Maine coast. If developed, the research site would consist of up to 12 floating offshore wind turbines capable of generating up to 144 MW of renewable energy.
In August 2022, consistent with its regulations, the Department of the Interior announced the RFCI as the first step in processing the State’s research lease application. Publication of the RFCI in the Federal Register on Aug. 19, 2022, initiated a 45-day public comment period which closed on Oct. 3, 2022. BOEM received complete submissions to the RFCI from two qualified entities. However, following a careful review of the submissions, BOEM concluded there was no competitive interest in the RFCI area due to concerns about commercial scale viability in the proposed research lease area.
The determination of no competitive interest in the RFCI area does not guarantee that the State of Maine will receive a research lease. The next steps for processing the research application include publishing a Determination of No Competitive Interest in the Federal Register and initiating an environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind leasing activities associated with the research lease.