- Two agencies in the U.S. Department of the Interior announced on Tuesday an agreement to coordinate on the regulation of offshore renewable energy, on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on Dec. 22 to clarify their roles in ensuring an efficient use of resources for renewable energy production, such as offshore wind. BSEE's activity is "critical to BOEM's management" of renewable energy development on the OCS, BSEE Director Scott Angelle said in a statement, and the MOA clarifies that role.
- An ongoing collaboration with the Business Network for Offshore Wind and the recently-merged American Wind Energy Association and the American Clean Power Association is supporting this effort from BOEM and BSEE, according to a spokesperson from the Business Network. As part of the collaboration, the industry groups are also working on the development of offshore wind construction and operation standards for the American National Standards Institute.
A larger influx of offshore wind development proposals have been filed with BOEM in recent years, prompting the agency to re-evaluate its planning and permitting process for OCS renewable energy development.
States in the East Coast have established offshore wind targets and have asked BOEM to make more leasing options in the OCS available as well as to streamline their permitting processes.
New York, for instance, plans to bring 9,000 MW of offshore wind online by 2035 and has plans in place for procuring half of that capacity.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) "looks forward to working with the Department of Interior and its agencies under President Biden's administration to advance the development of this renewable resource in New York State and along the East Coast," a NYSERDA spokesperson said in an email. "With Federal approval, New York's growing offshore wind pipeline presents a massive opportunity to generate billions of dollars in private investment, create thousands of new good-paying jobs, and help deliver a significant portion of the state's zero-emission electricity."
Ahead of December's MOA, BSEE and BOEM published a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in September to kick off a rulemaking process to transfer safety and environmental compliance functions and regulations for offshore renewable energy from BOEM to BSEE.
Stakeholders in offshore wind viewed the MOU as a way to end ambiguities surrounding regulation of worker health and safety roles offshore.
"This MOU is an integral component to advancing the offshore wind industry and demonstrates a clear commitment to ongoing federal interagency collaboration in the offshore wind regulatory ecosystem, which will prove increasingly essential as the new Biden administration leans on offshore wind to advance its clean energy objectives," Sam Salustro, director for coalitions and strategic partnerships at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said in an email.
The latest MOA would help strengthen the safety and environmental impact considerations in offshore wind permitting, according to BOEM.
"We appreciate the critical information provided by our key stakeholders, such as commercial fishers, to inform our decision-making processes, and we look forward to continuing these relationships as we work with BSEE to ensure the renewable energy industry incorporates safety and environmental compliance measures throughout the installation and operation of offshore facilities," BOEM Acting Director Walter Cruickshank said in a statement.
In addition to industry groups collaborating on offshore wind standards, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory launched an initiative to harmonize safety and environmental standards for offshore wind through a workshop in February 2020.