Interagency Offshore Wind Council

The Interagency Offshore Wind Council was established to advance the responsible development and operation of offshore wind to meet our ambitious climate goals through coordination and input from stakeholders and communities.

Table of Contents

Background

On April 20, 2023, Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rebecca Tepper announced the establishment of the Interagency Offshore Wind Council. It is a top priority of the Healey-Driscoll Administration to advance the responsible development of offshore wind to meet the Commonwealth’s ambitious climate goals. Years of substantial effort and ongoing coordination and cooperation have resulted in significant progress in Massachusetts, which is recognized as a leader for offshore wind in the United States. Continuing to grow our state’s offshore wind industry will require greater interagency collaboration. Formalizing and elevating these efforts through a new Interagency Offshore Wind Council will advance communication, alignment, collaboration, and joint execution.

The Council will meet regularly and is responsible for developing an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan with stakeholder input. Chaired by EEA, the Council includes representatives from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER), the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Public Utilities, the Executive Office of Economic Development, the Executive Office of Labor & Workforce Development, and the Executive Office of Education. A Steering Committee, composed of EEA, DOER, CZM, and MassCEC, and assisted by a consultant, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc (VHB), will support the core work of the Council.

Goals and Objectives

The Strategic Plan will: (1) assess and describe the current status of the offshore wind industry in the Commonwealth and the region, existing legal and policy frameworks, and progress to date; (2) identify key drivers, gaps and needs, and findings relating to offshore wind development; and (3) lay out a long-term vision for offshore wind and recommend specific actions and strategies necessary to advance the following goals and objectives by 2040:

  1. Ensure Comprehensive Planning with Robust Stakeholder Engagement
    • Advance responsible planning and siting for offshore wind lease areas and potential cable landing locations sufficient to meet goals.
    • Maintain and expand meaningful opportunities and forums for stakeholder engagement and input.
    • Ensure the inclusion of communities, including energy justice communities and the fishing industry, in strategic development.
  2. Implement Efficient and Effective Environmental Reviews and Support for Mutual Co-Existence
    • Employ coordinated and timely environmental review and permitting to avoid or minimize potential adverse effects.
    • Develop and manage robust mitigation and compensation framework(s).
  3. Establish a Long-Term Offshore Wind Energy Target and Plan for Procurements and Offtake
    • Develop a target and timeline for offshore wind development that supports the Commonwealth’s electric sector emission reduction targets and utilizes the local supply chain.
    • Advance state-led procurements, wholesale market development, and other generation offtake mechanisms and opportunities.
  4. Grow Massachusetts as a National Hub for Offshore Wind Economic Development
    • Support the purposeful redevelopment of ports and infrastructure for marshalling, manufacturing/fabrication, operations and maintenance, and other important maritime services for offshore wind.
    • Develop a diverse and equitable offshore wind workforce.
    • Expand the Commonwealth’s offshore wind business cluster and advance a local and regional supply chain.
  5. Develop a Modern and Resilient Transmission System with Efficient Interconnection of Offshore Wind
    • Plan for the implementation of a modernized, integrated transmission system to interconnect offshore wind.
    • Ensure grid reliability and resiliency.
    • Investigate the benefits of new transmission links between regions.
  6. Promote Research and Innovation for New Technologies, Solutions, and Services to Support entrepreneurs and early-stage companies in technology and intellectual property development and commercialization and forge closer ties to developers, suppliers, and universities.
    • Support academic research institution partners to deliver data, knowledge, and innovations that significantly advance ocean energy industries.
    • Support access to testing and demonstration facilities for product or process pilots, validation, and certification.
  7. Advance rigorous long-term monitoring, assessment, and reporting on offshore wind performance and contribution to energy needs, industry growth, workforce expansion, diversity and equity, environmental sustainability, and compatibility with ocean users.

Outreach and Engagement Opportunities

The IOWC is soliciting stakeholder and community input to develop and maintain the Offshore Wind Strategic Plan.

The IOWC held three virtual stakeholder sessions:

  • April 4, 1pm-2:30pm      Workforce, Ports, and Supply Chain
  • April 10, 1pm-2:30pm    Environment, Ecology, and Marine Uses
  • April 11, 1pm-2:30pm    Energy Needs, Procurement, and Transmission

The IOWC is accepting ongoing written comment from stakeholders from those sessions. Please email any written comment to VHB’s Luke Mitchell (lamitchell@vhb.com).

Following the three virtual stakeholder sessions, the IOWC is drafting the Strategic Plan. The IOWC will complete a virtual public meeting on the progress on the Strategic Plan in late summer/early fall 2024 and will complete stakeholder engagement with public comment on the draft Strategic Plan before finalization. Please sign up for the DOER Email list for updates on public engagement. 

Recent Actions

  • Offshore Wind Procurement: On August 30, 2023, Massachusetts issued its fourth and largest offshore wind solicitation to date. The Request for Proposal invited bids to procure up to 3,600 MW of offshore wind generation, which represents 25 percent of the state’s annual electricity demand and is the largest procurement for offshore wind energy generation ever in New England. Bids were due March 27, 2024, and project selection will occur by August 7, 2024. To learn more about this solicitation, visit macleanenergy.com.
  • Multi-State Coordination: On October 4, 2023, Massachusetts announced a first-time agreement with Connecticut and Rhode Island to execute a historic coordination agreement on the procurement of offshore wind through current and near-term state solicitations for cost-effective offshore wind generation.
  • Federal and Regional Supply Chain Collaboration: On September 20, 2023, Massachusetts joined eight other East Coast states and four federal agencies to execute an agreement to strengthen regional collaboration on offshore wind supply chain development. This agreement will help expand key elements of the offshore wind supply chain in a coordinated and sustainable manner, including manufacturing facilities for offshore wind components, port capabilities, and workforce development, while promoting efficiency, environmental justice, and equity.
  • Facilitation and Technical Support – Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB): In October 2023, the Council Steering Committee approved the selection of VHB to support the activities of the Council.  Under contract to MassCEC, VHB will provide meeting facilitation and stakeholder engagement services, conduct focused technical assessments, and support the development of a Massachusetts Offshore Wind Strategic Plan.

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