Permitting and Approvals

Understanding federal and state requirements

The development of offshore wind energy in the United States is guided by federal and state permitting processes designed to ensure the responsible siting, planning, construction, operation, and decommissioning of projects. In order to obtain permits, offshore wind developers must support their projects with extensive environmental, economic, and social research and analyses. Developers spend years collecting data and engaging with stakeholders in order to create comprehensive permitting applications detailing how they will responsibly develop their projects.

Throughout the federal and state approvals processes, there are opportunities for public comment. The agencies responsible for permitting carefully consider these comments and make recommendations accordingly as to whether project plans should be approved, modified, or rejected.

Federal Authorizations and Consultations

Offshore wind projects are typically built in federal waters and must abide by federal laws (note: federal waters are inclusive of all waters more than three nautical miles from shore). The below table provides an overview of federal permitting and consultation requirements for offshore wind generation and transmission development (see a list of agency abbreviations below the table).


Permitting/Consultation Requirement Federal Regulatory Agency

Obtain a commercial lease of submerged lands for renewable energy development

BOEM

Receive approval for a Site Assessment Plan (SAP)

BOEM

Receive approval for a Construction and Operations Plan (COP)

BOEM

Receive approval for a Facility and Design Report (FDR)

BOEM

Receive approval for a Fabrication and Installation Report (FIR)

BOEM

Consultations pertaining to:

  • Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act,
  • Marine Mammal Protection Act,
  • National Historic Preservation Act,
  • Endangered Species Act

NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries, USFWS

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation

NOAA Fisheries, USFWS

Receive permit for subsea cables under the Clean Water Act

USACE

Receive permit for navigational lighting

U.S. Coast Guard

Consultations pertaining to siting

DoD, FAA

Receive permits for air quality and pollution prevention

EPA, USACE

Receive authorization for incidental take or harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act

NOAA Fisheries, USFWS


Abbreviations

BOEM
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
DoD
U.S. Department of Defense
EPA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
FAA
Federal Aviation Administration
NOAA
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
USACE
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
USFWS
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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State Authorizations and Consultations

For offshore wind projects to provide renewable energy to New Yorkers, the generated power must connect and/or deliver to New York’s electricity grid. Components of the project that are located within New York State boundaries (on land and within three nautical miles from shore) must abide by state laws. The below table provides an overview of state permitting and consultation requirements for offshore wind development (see a list of agency abbreviations below the table).

Permitting/Consultation Requirement

State Regulatory Agency

Receive permit for the transmission system connecting the offshore wind farm to New York’s electricity grid

NYS PSC

Receive permits for coastal environmental impacts

NYS DEC, NYS PSC

Receive an easement for underwater cables

NYS OGS

Federal Consistency Review under the New York State Coastal Management Program

NYS DOS

Receive permit for work on State-owned roads

NYS DOT


Abbreviations

NYS DEC
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
NYS DOS
New York State Department of State
NYS DOT
New York State Department of Transportation
NYS OGS
New York State Office of General Services
NYS PSC
New York State Public Service Commission

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