The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has approved changes to the policies in the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OSAMP) with an aim to better address proposed offshore wind farm developments.
According to CRMC, a number of issues were raised during the federal consistency review process for the Vineyard Wind project, which the agency concurred with in February.
The changes tighten up the policies in the OSAMP, which inform the CRMC in its state permitting process and federal consistency evaluation of wind farm developments in federal offshore waters, the council said.
Changes include clarification of the regulations and better distinction between state permitting and federal consistency review authority, as well as clarification of NOAA approval of the OSAMP and federal consistency authority.
Representation of seafood processing facilities onto the CRMC Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB) was also added and an increase in FAB membership to 20 to account for the seafood processing facilities representatives.
Furthermore, the 2011 and 2018 geographic location descriptions (GLDs) were further clarified, and a USD 20,000 administrative fee for projects subject to CRMC federal consistency review only was introduced.
“The offshore wind energy sector is rapidly gaining ground in northeast waters, and we learned a lot from going through the federal consistency evaluation of the first commercial offshore development, Vineyard Wind,” said Grover Fugate, CRMC Executive Director.
“There were things the State of Rhode Island needed to have more of a voice in during that process and with other wind energy projects going forward, for the benefit of all Rhode Islanders, and these regulation changes will accomplish that goal.”
Some of the proposed amendments were deferred for further review and will be proposed later, such as addressing negative impacts and the process for considering mitigation options and adding standards to check whether all feasible options are evaluated for modifying a project.
In addition, introducing proposed standards for wind farm design and adding requirements for noise generated by construction and pile driving, as well as amendments to add requirements for cable burial will be considered.