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BOEM, RI officials name Wind Energy Area

FEBRUARY 27, PROVIDENCE, RI – Using the Fisheries Advisory Board formed through the Ocean Special Area Management Plan process that was developed by the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced creation of a Wind Energy Area (WEA) that will restrict the location of wind energy projects and protect important fishing grounds.

Governor Lincoln D. Chaffee, Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman David Cicilline on Friday announced that a critical fishing area, Cox’s Ledge, had been removed from consideration for development through the designation of the WEA. The decision to remove the blocks will ensure wind energy projects will be sited in areas with the most minimal impact to important fishing grounds.

BOEM identified this area, which located within the previously named “area of mutual interest” or AMI indentified by Rhode Island and Massachusetts in an agreement between the states in 2010, as part of the federal component of the Ocean SAMP. The CRMC will evaluate proposed wind energy projects in this Wind Energy Area, as well as any projects proposed within the confines of the Ocean SAMP area off Rhode Island’s coast.

In addition to gathering feedback and comments through the Fisheries Advisory Board (FAB), BOEM also sought comment on the WEA through a call for information and nominations (inviting developers to identify locations within the AMI for potential leases for wind energy projects) and a public notice. The agency worked with a Rhode Island task force formed in 2009, and also relied upon work done for the Ocean SAMP, according to a letter sent from U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to Senator Reed.

“Throughout this process, we have also benefitted tremendously from the rigorous analysis conducted in Rhode Island in conjunction with the development of the Special Area Management Plan (SAMP),” Salazar wrote. “Based on extensive consultation and analysis, BOEM narrowed the focus of the WEA by excluding commercially important fishing grounds from the area. In light of significant environmental concerns and fishing interests, BOEM removed from the AMI area the sensitive Cox’s Ledge region.”

For more information on the announcement and WEA, as well as maps depicting the blocks, go to: http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/State-Activities/Rhode-Island.aspx . For more information on the Ocean SAMP, go to: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/samp_ocean.html.

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