Govs. Donald L. Carcieri, R-R.I., and Deval Patrick, D-Mass., have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to coordinate and collaborate in the permitting and development of offshore wind projects in a designated area of mutual interest (AMI) in federal waters in Rhode Island Sound.
The special area mapping plan (SAMP), developed and executed by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), shall serve as the planning and assessment guide upon which the two states shall proceed to complete the federal Mineral Management Service (MMS) renewable energy leasing process and develop operating wind energy facilities.
Rhode Island and Massachusetts are both working to develop offshore wind projects in state and federal waters. The MOU commits both states to coordinate and collaborate in potential development of offshore wind energy in a 400 square-mile AMI beginning 12 miles southwest of Martha's Vineyard and extending 20 miles westward into Rhode Island Sound.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates wind energy potential off the Atlantic coast at approximately 620,000 MW – enough emissions-free energy to meet the total electricity needs of the East Coast.
The MOU shall not supersede the efforts by either state to develop projects within their respective state waters or in adjacent federal waters outside of the AMI. The MOU also preserves the authority of each state to apply state and local permitting laws to development in the AMI as applicable.
Under the terms of the MOU, Rhode Island recognizes Massachusetts as a formal stakeholder – on equal terms – of the SAMP process, allowing Massachusetts to provide input into and utilize the results of the SAMP in identifying the location of a possible offshore wind project for the state in the AMI, upon agreement by both states. In addition, the two states will develop an economic development study to identify the costs and benefits of offshore wind development in the AMI.
Should the SAMP determine that the AMI is favorable for utility-scale wind energy development, the MOU ensures that any such project be approved by the governors of both states and that economic benefits be shared by both states on an equitable and fair basis before it can seek necessary federal approvals.