Looking to facilitate the development of offshore wind energy resources to meet U.S. climate and renewable energy objectives, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking public comment on a host of proposed regulatory changes.
According to a Jan. 30 notice published in the Federal Register, the first rules and regulations regarding offshore wind were created in 2009. Since then, BOEM has conducted 11 auctions, and issued and managed 27 active commercial leases. At least two of those leases – Ørsted’s Skipjack and US Wind’s MarWin – are found in ocean waters that will be visible from Delaware’s beaches.
The notice says the proposed reforms were identified by BOEM and recommended by industry. The changes aim to reduce administrative burdens for both developers and the BOEM staff, reduce developer costs and uncertainty, and introduce greater regulatory flexibility in a rapidly changing industry, says the notice.
“This proposed rule is a major modernization of the regulations, reflects lessons learned from the past 13 years, and is projected to save the renewable energy industry $1 billion over 20 years,” reads the notice. “These updates are necessary to ensure a durable and appropriate process is in place to advance renewable energy.”
There are eight major components to the changes – eliminating unnecessary requirements for the deployment of meteorological buoys; increasing survey flexibility; improving the project design and installation process; establishing a public renewable energy leasing schedule; reforming BOEM’s renewable energy auction regulations; tailoring financial assurance requirements and instruments; clarifying safety management system regulations; and revising other provisions and making technical corrections.
Representatives from Ørsted and US Wind both said the companies are still digging into the fine details of the proposed changes, but both appear to be in favor of them.
Based on initial review, Ørsted is encouraged by BOEM’s thoughtful proposal to update offshore renewable energy leasing, permitting and safety regulations, said Chris Bason, Ørsted's stakeholder relations lead in Delaware.
“This rulemaking process will provide an opportunity to incorporate best practices learned domestically and globally, establishing a robust regulatory foundation for decades to come,” said Bason.
US Wind is supportive of any effort to modernize the permitting process and incorporate lessons learned to date, said Laurie Jodziewicz, US Wind senior director of environmental affairs. US Wind is especially happy to see changes surrounding the permitting of meteorological and oceanographic buoys, the timing requirements of certain geotechnical surveys, and codifying the increasingly important Project Design Envelope.
“We look forward to working with BOEM to further streamline the federal permitting process to ensure that this clean energy is delivered expeditiously as well as responsibly,” said Jodziewicz.
There are two dates associated with submitting public comment on the proposed changes.
Comments regarding the substance of the proposed rule changes are due to BOEM by Friday, March 31. Comments regarding the information collection burden of the proposed rule should be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and to BOEM by Wednesday, March 1.
Comments, identified by docket number BOEM-2022-0019 and regulation identifier number 1010-AE04, can be submitted by following the directions at regulations.gov; or through mail by addressing comments to Office of Regulations, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Department of the Interior, Attention: Georgeann Smale, 45600 Woodland Road, Mailstop: DIR—BOEM, Sterling, VA 20166.
For more information, contact Smale, renewable energy modernization rule lead, by phone at 703-544-9246 or by email at Georgeann.Smale@boem.gov; or Karen Thundiyil, BOEM Office of Regulations chief, at 202-742-0970 or by email at Karen.Thundiyil@boem.gov.