State Senator: NH Could Benefit From Offshore Wind Leases Announced for Gulf of Maine

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Offshore wind photo by the U.S. Department of Interior.


CONCORD – An announcement Wednesday from the Biden Administration that it is on track to offer a lease auction for commercial scale offshore wind for the Gulf of Maine this year, “puts the state on notice” that if it wants the jobs and the investment which comes from this renewable source “we’ve got to work on it now,” said state Sen. David Watters, D-Dover.

Watters said that the Gulf of Maine, off the state’s shores is known as a “sweet spot” with huge potential for generating up to 32 gigawatts of power into the future.

In March, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced a final Wind Energy Area for the Gulf of Maine where leases could be expected. 

This is two million acres in size. It represented an 80 percent reduction in the initial area plan, BOEM said, and Watters added it was crafted in consultation with a number of stakeholders, including New Hampshire’s fisheries industry.

“Speaking for New Hampshire, we did a great job consulting with the fishing industry,” Watters said.

Areas of concern for potential conflict with fishing in the initial proposed map were removed from the final map, he said.

He gave credit to Mark Sanborn, Gov. Chris Sununu’s appointee for doing a good job representing the state’s interests.

Watters said the announcement Wednesday by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, which sets out lease sales auctions for the next five years, reaffirms that the federal government is sticking to its plan and is committed to the process of opening these areas to offshore wind development.

For New Hampshire, Watters said, that means its “all hands on deck” time.

“I think we are queued up pretty well,” he said to take advantage of wind opportunities offshore.

Watters said there is potential to expand the port of Portsmouth for use in offshore wind and that it could be a significant economic boost to the region.

In 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its goal to create 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.

Haaland said in a statement that the Biden-Harris Administration has “built an off-wind industry from the ground up after years of delays from the previous administration.”

Since the administration began, it has approved four offshore wind leases providing 10 gigawatts of power, enough to power 4 million homes.

Elizabeth Klein, director of BOEM, said in a statement that the announcement provides “certainty and transparency” to help the growing offshore wind industry to have a renewable energy lease schedule they can count on.

Watters, as a Seacoast area resident and renewable energy advocate in the Senate, has watched the process closely. He said Wednesday that there is huge potential for New Hampshire to participate and he anticipates that the auction could be held in a time frame of this September to November. It could yield projects of up to 5 gigawatts of manufactured wind power.

The Gulf of Maine projects also have the benefit of not going first and where mistakes were made in the first rounds, won’t likely be repeated, Watters said. In addition to being next up, the schedule calls for it again to be offering auctions in 2028.

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