Uses

Wind Planning Areas

Wind planning areas are specific areas within the outer continental shelf that have been identified for potential development for offshore wind energy. A wind planning area refers to one of many different categories of announcements within the Federal Register notices (FRN) that describe the status of an area under consideration for future wind leasing and that seem most suitable for wind energy development. A wind planning area can be a wind energy area, or one or more of the many transitional steps in the process of becoming an offshore wind lease. Many planning areas have become active renewable energy leases. Currently there are WPAs off the Atlantic coast, West coast, and Hawaii. So why should a wind energy planner use the Wind Energy Areas data set?

  1. Wind Planning Areas indicate those areas already being considered for wind development by a state wind energy task force, and allow the stakeholders in the area to see where the most recent changes to areas under consideration have occurred. Often the original areas are much larger than the final areas. State task force members review and discuss each area and concerns such as viewsheds, shipping traffic, fishing activities, environmental and archaeological concerns, and military uses. Areas considered incompatible with those uses are often eliminated from the next or final phases. If you notice an area is being considered for potential wind development and know of an impediment to a portion of the area being developed, you can contact your state task force representative.
  2. Wind Planning Areas are often indicators of a period of time for public comment. This data layer is linked to the particular Federal Register notice that it represents. You can use the ID tool in the viewer by clicking on the layer to see the layer’s attributes and click on the FRN link. Use this data layer and others within the MarineCadastre.gov site to make a map and provide comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) if you have information to provide.
  3. Assessment results determine next steps in the lease process. A Federal Register Notice (FRN) will be published to solicit additional information or leasing interest in areas recommended by the wind energy task forces. The exact type of notice used depends on the amount and quality of information gathered as part of the wind energy task force assessment. Example notices include a call for interest or request for information. A full list of possibilities is listed below.

It is important to note that each state carries out its own processes, which results in differing amounts and types of information. Although leases are made in federal waters, the cables will run through state waters, and all construction and operation activities will be reviewed by the states under the consistency provision of the Coastal Zone Management Act. Separate federal and state wind energy task forces look at different aspects of offshore wind energy development in the adjacent federal waters of each state.

Types of Federal Register Notice Announcements

A wind planning area (WPA) shown in the MarineCadastre.gov may encompass any one or more of these types of areas at any time:
  • Wind Energy Area (WEA) ─ a portion of the outer continental shelf that BOEM identifies as appearing to be suitable for the consideration of wind energy development based on information concerning wind energy potential, natural resources, competing uses, and other relevant issues. This is a term coined by the secretary’s “Smart from the Start” initiative. In a competitive leasing process, the term is synonymous with Area Identification, which is the area that BOEM identifies as being subject to environmental analysis because it is being considered for leasing.
  • Request for Information (RFI) applies to areas that BOEM publishes in the Federal Register to solicit nominations of interest for leasing and additional information. This is the first step in the planning and leasing process.
  • Call for Interest (CFI) applies to areas that BOEM publishes in the Federal Register to solicit nominations of interest for leasing and additional information. This is the next step in the planning and leasing process, though BOEM may decide to start the process by publishing this notice in certain circumstances (e.g., in New Jersey).
  • Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) applies to areas that BOEM publishes in the Federal Register to solicit additional nominations of interest to determine whether competitive interest exists. An RFCI was published for the area offshore of Delaware.
  • Determination of No Competitive Interest (DNCI) applies to areas that BOEM publishes in the Federal Register in which they have determined that no competitive interest exists. A DNCI was published for the area offshore of Oregon.
  • Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) is a notice BOEM publishes in the Federal Register that describes the proposed areas to be offered for leasing and the proposed conditions of a lease sale. This notice would not be published until after the NEPA review had been completed.
  • Final Sale Notice (FSN) is a notice BOEM publishes in the Federal Register that describes the final areas to be offered and the final conditions of a lease sale.

For questions, please contact info@marinecadastre.gov.