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A million acres of ocean for offshore wind: ‘Wow, that’s awfully close to Cape Cod.’

Posted on July 1, 2024

As a July 1 deadline approached for comments to be submitted to the federal government regarding a proposal to auction offshore wind leases in the Gulf of Maine — including off the outermost Cape towns — the region’s leaders wanted more time to weigh in.

The Cape & Islands Municipal Leaders Association, an organization of 105 elected officials representing all 22 towns on the Cape, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, has sent a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management requesting to extend the deadline to July 22.

BOEM opened the public comment period on the proposed sale notice for leases on May 1, a day after announcing its plan for first-time ever offering of nearly a million ocean acres in the Gulf of Maine for offshore wind production.

“This comment period extension will allow for additional public meetings to address comments and concerns and provide for a more streamlined permitting, construction and operation of what is likely the most significant investment in energy facilities ever to be made,” the association’s June 25 letter reads.

The letter also details 13 specific comments and concerns the organization has related to the leasing plan, including questions about potential installation of floating turbines, impacts on small fisheries and ports, and environmental effects, among others.

Eight potential lease areas are proposed in the Gulf of Maine: three totaling 363,305 acres due east of Wellfleet and Truro starting about 24 miles offshore and stretching eastward, three due east of Boston, beyond the eastern boundary of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary at the mouth of Massachusetts Bay, and two due east of Portsmouth, New Hampshire and southeast of Portland, Maine.

Those areas have the potential to generate 15 gigawatts of renewable energy, which would power more than five million homes, according to the federal agency. It’s possible that some turbines would be visible, given very clear conditions and depending on the final height of the structures, from the Atlantic Ocean bluffs in Truro.

On Thursday, Cape & Islands Municipal Leaders Association President Douglas Brown said the first formal presentation the organization had about the plans for the Gulf of Maine was at its annual meeting on Martha’s Vineyard on June 14.

“A couple of days before the meeting, I got an email from somebody at BOEM, and he asked if they could join us,” he said.

That’s when the region’s leaders first realized as a group how much of a stake the region has, he said.

“They came in and they showed us the lease areas,” Brown said. “Somebody after the meeting came over and said ‘wow, that’s awfully close to Cape Cod, not like I expected it to be for the Gulf of Maine.”

The container ship MSC SAGITTA III makes its way off Truro on its way from New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia Thursday morning.

He said despite some notices from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management prior to June about the impending “Gulf of Maine” proposed sale notice, many missed a full understanding of just how far the area extended. In his mind, the Gulf ends at the top of Cape Cod, and the waters east of the Cape are open Atlantic Ocean.

“I guess it (the Gulf) ends in Chatham now,” he said.

Six of the eight proposed lease areas “are closer to Cape Cod than they are to Maine,” he said.

“I don’t know when there was a BOEM meeting about this on Cape Cod,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of stuff that we need to think about and talk about it.”

The July 22 public comment period extension the Cape Cod and Islands leaders are asking for coincides with another public comment period for a draft environmental assessment that just opened on June 21. The assessment considers site characterization surveys — such as biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples — as well as installation of meteorological buoys expected to occur following issuance of leases, according to the agency.

As for the public comments on the lease sites, at this time closing July 1, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is specifically seeking feedback on various aspects of the proposed lease areas, including size, orientation and location of the eight lease areas and which areas, if any, should be prioritized for inclusion or exclusion from this year’s scheduled lease sale.

To submit comments, visit In the search box, enter BOEM-2024-0026 for the comments section on the lease sites, click “search” and follow the instructions to submit public comments.

To submit comments on the draft environmental assessment, enter BOEM-2024-0030 into the search box.

Virtual meetings are also scheduled for reviewing the draft environmental assessment, on Monday, July 8 at 1 p.m. and Wednesday, July 10 at 5 p.m. Registration links for each meeting are available at


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