Ocean Protection, Ocean Energy
September 19 2018

Offshore Wind Farms Are Here

After fits and starts over the last 10 years, offshore wind farm development has moved into high gear. New projects have popped up all along the U.S. East Coast, and talks have begun on the West Coast.

The first commercial scale project near Block Island in Rhode Island waters, has been operational for almost two years now, but it only consists of five turbines in state waters. Projects nearing the construction phase offshore of the Maryland/Delaware and MA/RI/CT/NY regions, are poised to put 15 to 30 turbines each in waters around 20 miles offshore.

These first in line projects will set the bar for future projects of even larger size coming behind them. Surfrider wants to make sure that these projects go through a rigorous vetting process by local, state, and federal authorities, including a comprehensive analysis through the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Surfrider has an official policy on offshore renewable energy that includes offshore wind power generation. We are weighing the benefits of reducing carbon pollution and the impacts from climate change that offshore wind power generation provides, with the environmental impacts the projects could create. Please read Surfrider’s Renewable Energy Policy for a breakdown of those concerns.Photo Credit: Melissa Gates

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), tasked with approving offshore wind projects, has granted 13 leases in federal waters (past 3 miles), all on the East Coast. Some of these areas may never be fully utilized, but around two to three hundred turbines are currently in the pipeline, representing two to three thousand megawatts (MW) of power. Three thousand MW could power around 600,000 homes. 

The projects closest to the NEPA and constructions phases are: Skipjack offshore MD/DE, and Vineyard and South Fork offshore of MA/RI/CT/NY. Contact Matt Gove (mgove@surfrider.org) if you have any questions, and he can put you in touch with the appropriate Surfrider staff contact in your region