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The Department of the Interior has announced next steps to bring the opportunity of offshore wind energy to the Gulf of Maine. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has made available a Request for Interest (RFI) and Request for Competitive Interest (RFCI) in the Federal Register for public comment.
 
The RFI is the first step in BOEM’s commercial planning and leasing process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for development, taking into consideration potential impacts to other resources and ocean users. The purpose of the RFI is to gauge interest in the development of commercial wind energy leases within the RFI Area, which consists of about 13,713,800 acres in the Gulf of Maine. Through the RFI, BOEM seeks feedback from stakeholders, industry, Tribes, ocean users, and others regarding the location and size of specific areas they wish to be included in (or excluded from) a future offshore wind energy lease sale, along with other planning considerations. This information will be used to narrow the area to be considered for offshore wind development as BOEM moves forward with the Gulf of Maine planning and leasing process.
 
The RFCI is the next step in processing the State of Maine’s application for a research lease and provides notice of the proposed research area that Maine requested. BOEM is issuing this RFCI because the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and implementing regulations require that BOEM determine whether competitive interest exists in any area that is the subject of an unsolicited lease request.  If BOEM does not receive any indications of competitive interest for a lease in response to this notice, BOEM will move forward with the research application. However, if one or more indications of competitive interest from qualified entities are submitted, BOEM may decide to move forward with the lease issuance process using competitive leasing procedures. Maine’s application requests 9,700 acres on the Outer Continental Shelf more than 20 nautical miles off the Maine coast. If developed, the research array would comprise up to 12 floating offshore wind turbines capable of generating up to 144 megawatts of renewable energy. BOEM invites submission of indications of commercial interest, as well as comments from interested and affected parties.
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