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Ocean SAMP Update

July 12, 2012

The Block Island project is a state-regulated pilot in state waters involving developer Deepwater Wind, and there is significant potential for a larger, offshore wind project in federal waters. The Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) is the key state regulatory document guiding the Block Island test turbine project.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) is currently reviewing Deepwater Wind’s permit application to place five offshore wind turbines in the area within the SAMP known as the Renewable Energy Zone. The CRMC will not receive an application from Deepwater until the developer secures all of the necessary local approvals, including one from the Town of Narragansett for its cable installation and landing. Because the ACOE does not require this approval as a caveat, Deepwater has applied to that agency first.
Regarding the federal efforts, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has announced its Wind Energy Area in federal waters and is preparing an environmental assessment (EA) for research within the Area of Mutual Interest (AMI) within federal waters. This document, which is currently out for public comment, will contain a large amount of data from the Ocean SAMP, and BOEMRE consulted with the CRMC on the formation of this document.

The EA considers the entire Wind Energy Area offshore for leasing and approval of site assessment plans, and also considers alternatives that would exclude portions of the area from leasing based on certain criteria. The EA is available at http://www.boem.gov/Renewable-Energy-Program/Smart-from-the-Start/Index.aspx and the deadline for comments is August 2. BOEMRE will also be holding a public information session on July 16 at 7 p.m. at the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute Hazard’s Room, located at 218 South Ferry Road, in Narragansett.

Research agenda: The draft research agenda has been circulated to the Ocean SAMP Stakeholder group members and the public, and all interested parties have been asked to submit comments via a link: http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/oceansamp/comment.html. The agenda identifies additional research needed in the SAMP area, including study related to birds, habitat, engineering, marine mammals, fish and fisheries and underwater archaeological sites. The CRMC encourages the public to submit comments on this draft agenda and submit them by August 17, 2012.

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