Offshore wind energy technology uses wind turbines located in ocean waters to generate electricity from wind energy. Electricity is then transmitted via cables to the mainland electricity grid. A sustainable and clean source of energy, offshore wind is one of several renewable energy options with significant potential to advance Massachusetts efforts to diversify energy sources and meet goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Offshore wind is more productive than land-based wind due to higher and more consistent wind speeds. However, siting, constructing, and operating offshore wind farms is more challenging and costly due to the already busy offshore space and rigorous development conditions. As the technology advances and the local supply chain develops, the cost of offshore wind is expected to continue to decline and become an important source of electricity for many states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
This web page summarizes Massachusetts efforts to responsibly site and develop offshore wind, focusing on state agency roles, the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, and state-federal partnerships for renewable energy development on the outer continental shelf.
Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) is actively working on many aspects to site and develop potential offshore wind projects responsibly, reduce their risks, and cultivate jobs in the sector.
Offshore wind will be a cornerstone of the Massachusetts energy supply in the next three decades, enabling the Commonwealth to meet its decarbonized energy demand while sustaining economic growth. For that vision to become a reality, Massachusetts needs to invest in infrastructure, particularly ports, workforce, and supply chain, to support the industry’s growth. EEA will continue to support the review of projects under review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in the Wind Energy Areas in southern New England. EEA will also continue to work with federal entities and other states to expand the offshore wind industry, including working with BOEM to identify new renewable energy areas in federal waters and auction lease areas for offshore wind in the Gulf of Maine. These efforts will help create future development opportunities while engaging with fishing interests to ensure that offshore wind and fisheries can share the valuable natural ocean resources of the East Coast. To support the development of offshore wind in deep waters, Massachusetts is working with industry experts to develop floating offshore wind technologies.
Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
As the lead policy, planning, and technical assistance agency on coastal and ocean issues for EEA, the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) works closely with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) to represent the Commonwealth’s interests in balancing offshore wind siting and development with the protection of natural resources and coexistence with existing maritime uses. Please see CZM’s Role in Offshore Wind page for more information.
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) accelerates the responsible development of offshore wind projects while increasing the role of Massachusetts companies, institutions, and workers in the offshore wind industry. Please see the MassCEC Offshore Wind page for more information.
Department of Energy Resources
The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) develops and implements policies and programs to ensure the adequacy, security, diversity, and cost-effectiveness of the Commonwealth's energy supply to create a clean, affordable, and resilient energy future for all residents, businesses, communities, and institutions. More information can be found at DOER's website.
DOER and the electric distribution companies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts periodically invite proposals from offshore wind developers for cost-effective long-term contracts for offshore wind energy and renewable energy certificates, pursuant to Section 83C of Chapter 169 of the Acts of 2008, as amended by the Energy Diversity Act, and An Act Driving Clean Energy and Offshore Wind. For more information and to receive updates about Massachusetts offshore wind solicitations, please visit the Massachusetts Clean Energy website at https://macleanenergy.com.
Division of Marine Fisheries
DMF engages in offshore wind development by working directly with developers to minimize impacts during project siting and layout, organizing and participating in state and regional working groups to improve regional research efforts, contributing to preparation of federal guidelines for monitoring and fisheries compensation, and providing best management recommendations to state and federal agencies in response to developer permitting submissions. Please see the DMF Offshore Wind page for more information.
Department of Public Utilities
The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is an adjudicatory agency overseen by a three-member Commission. It is responsible for oversight of investor-owned electric power, natural gas, and water utilities in the Commonwealth. In addition, the DPU is charged with developing alternatives to traditional regulation, monitoring service quality, regulating safety in the transportation and gas pipeline areas, and the siting of energy facilities. The mission of the DPU is to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected, and that utility companies are providing the most reliable service at the lowest possible cost. The DPU oversees the public safety from transportation and gas pipeline-related accidents, and the energy facilities siting process. The DPU seeks to promote safety, security, reliability of service, affordability, equity, and greenhouse gas emission reductions. Please see the DPU Long-Term Contracts for Renewable Energy page for more information about solicitations for offshore wind energy, responses to those solicitations, and power purchase agreements.
Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan
In 2008, the state’s Ocean Sanctuaries Act was amended to allow for renewable energy facilities if consistent with the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and subject to other conditions. First released in 2009, and updated and revised in 2015 and 2021, the ocean plan provides a blueprint for the management and protection of critical marine habitat and water-dependent uses in state ocean waters, including the siting and management standards for offshore wind. The ocean plan, which is overseen by CZM on behalf of EEA, has specific provisions to advance the proactive planning and siting of transmission corridors to bring electricity from offshore wind projects located in federal waters across state waters to access the mainland grid.
Offshore Wind Energy on the Outer Continental Shelf
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave BOEM the responsibility for renewable energy development on the outer continental shelf (OCS). Since 2009, the Commonwealth has worked closely with BOEM, including participating in an Intergovernmental Task Force consisting of federal, state, local, and tribal agency and elected official representatives in the planning, siting, and analysis of offshore wind areas in federal waters south of Massachusetts. This process included significant community and stakeholder involvement through public meetings, workshops, consultations, and events.
To augment the BOEM Intergovernmental Task Force process and engage directly with key stakeholders, CZM and MassCEC convened two working groups for fisheries and marine habitat issues. The Fisheries Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy is comprised of commercial fishermen and representatives from different ports and sectors, recreational fishermen, scientists, and state and federal agencies. The Habitat Working Group on Offshore Wind Energy includes scientists and technical experts from environmental organizations, academia, and state and federal agencies.
To support the siting of Wind Energy Areas in the Gulf of Maine, in 2019 BOEM formed an Intergovernmental Task Force covering that region. CZM and MassCEC are members of the Gulf of Maine Task Force. See the BOEM Gulf of Maine page for details.
For more information on the federal offshore wind process in Massachusetts, see BOEM’s Massachusetts Renewable Energy Activities web page.