The Biden administration announced Thursday that it has identified a 3.5 million-acre wind energy site in the Gulf of Maine that excludes lobster fishing grounds and right whale areas, drawing praise from environmentalists, the lobster industry and organized labor.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s draft wind energy area covers offshore Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, ranging from about 23 to 120 miles off the coast. Wind power will not likely be generated in the area until at least the next decade.

Its capacity of more than 40 gigawatts, enough to power millions of homes, exceeds the current combined offshore wind energy planning goals for Gulf of Maine states that include 10 gigawatts for Massachusetts and 3 gigawatts for Maine. Adjustments to the draft are likely following public comment.

A group of fishing interests, labor unions and environmental organizations that sought a compromise said they scored a victory with the BOEM’s exclusion of nearly an entire fishing ground called Lobster Management Area 1.

“This is how the process is supposed to work,” said Virginia Olsen, executive director of Maine Lobstering Union Local 207.

“Maine is showing that when diverse voices come to the table, we can work together to advance a new clean energy industry for Maine that bolsters our economy and creates the large amounts of offshore wind we need to power the future,” said Jack Shapiro, climate and clean energy director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.


Excluding Lobster Management Area 1 from the draft shows that sustaining Maine’s fishing industries and creating a long-term source of clean energy and well-paying union jobs are not mutually exclusive, said Francis Eanes, executive director of the Maine Labor Climate Council.

The earliest that commercial wind projects would be installed will probably be in the early- to mid-2030s, following extensive planning by wind-power developers and detailed federal review of the proposals, Shapiro said.

The size of the lobster management area is not clear. Federal officials last year issued a request-of-interest to gauge a potential market for wind energy leases in a 13.7 million-acre area, or nearly four times the size of the draft area most recently identified by BOEM. The agency then scaled back the site to a “draft call area” of 9.9 million acres.

BOEM cited President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035. Industry analysts are skeptical. Researcher BloombergNEF has pared back its outlook to 16.4 gigawatts by the end of the decade from a June forecast of 23.1 gigawatts in 2030.

Rising costs for steel and other components, higher interest rates and other challenges are taking a toll on the wind energy industry. Electric utility Avangrid announced Oct. 2 that it was ending power purchase agreements with Connecticut’s utilities for a project in the state’s largest city, Bridgeport, and would rebid the project. It cited inflation, supply chain disruptions and sharp interest rate hikes that made the project “unfinanceable under its existing contracts.”

Companies have taken large write-downs because of the increased costs and a reluctance by regulators to approve rate increases. Eversource reported a $331 million after-tax impairment charge in the second quarter for its offshore wind operations, and Orsted announced a potential $2.3 billion charge on its U.S. portfolio, Bloomberg News reported.

The BOEM has opened a 30-day period for public review and comment. To comment, go to and search for docket number BOEM-2023-54.

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