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Eight areas in the Gulf of Maine chosen as possible lease sites for commercial offshore wind

This map from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management shows eight proposed sites where it may eventually solicit bids from commercial offshore wind developers.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
This map from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management shows eight proposed sites where it may eventually solicit bids from commercial offshore wind developers.

The federal government is proposing eight areas in the Gulf of Maine as possible sites for commercial offshore wind farms.

The proposed lease areas cover about 1 million acres and have the potential to generate 15 gigawatts of energy, enough to power five million homes, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said Tuesday.

Two of the sites, encompassing nearly 254,000 acres, are off the Maine coast. The remaining six are located off Massachusetts.

In choosing the lease sites, BOEM said it wanted to avoid offshore fishing grounds and transit routes for ships. The eight proposed sites represent about half of the 2 million acres that BOEM chose as its "final wind energy area" for the Gulf of Maine, which the agency announced last month.

The areas exclude Lobster Management Area 1, which is home to popular fishing grounds for the state's lobster fleet.

Tuesday's announcement is another step in what will be a years-long commercial development process for the Gulf of Maine.

First, members of the public have until July 1 to comment on the draft lease areas announced Tuesday. The federal government is then expected to issue final lease areas later this summer, and then auction them this fall. Even if a lease is issued, developers will have to secure the proper permits before any wind farm construction can begin.

BOEM said it's seeking bids from developers who provide workforce training programs or potential compensation to mitigate the impacts of wind development on fisheries.

Qualified bidders can win no more than two leases each in the Gulf of Maine, according to BOEM. The agency said that developers can bid for and win two leases in the south region off Massachusetts, or one lease in Maine and another lease in the south. They cannot bid for or win both leases in Maine, according to BOEM.

BOEM has scheduled several meetings for the public to share feedback and comment on the proposed lease areas, including an open house in Portland on May 28, and a virtual meeting for commercial fishermen on June 6.

A full list of upcoming meetings can be found here.

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