US Department of the Interior Natural Resources Revenue Data

How it works /

Renewables: Offshore

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Outer Continental Shelf Renewable Energy Program and created guidelines that inform BOEM's regulations for offshore wind, ocean wave, and ocean current energy.

So far, the majority of renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf has been wind energy. For each state with the potential to harness wind energy, BOEM convenes a unique intergovernmental task force of federal agencies, state agencies, and tribes. This taskforce helps guide the project from planning through decommissioning. Taskforce meetings are open to the public.

Managed and regulated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

The Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) manages monetary transactions.

Did you know?

To date, BOEM has issued nine commercial wind energy leases on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf, including those offshore of Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Virginia. BOEM expects to hold lease sales for areas offshore of New Jersey and North Carolina in the near future and is considering other commercial Wind Energy Areas (WEAs).

  • 1


    BOEM identifies areas within the Outer Continental Shelf for wind energy leasing through a collaborative, consultative, and analytical process that engages stakeholders and begins with a call for information and nominations. BOEM then reviews submissions and identifies priority Wind Energy Areas offshore that appear most suitable for wind energy development. Alternatively, a citizen or company can apply to lease waters within the Outer Continental Shelf that BOEM hasn’t identified, and BOEM will review these applications. During this phase, BOEM may also conduct an Environmental Assessment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

  • 2


    BOEM grants offshore wind energy leases through either a competitive or an uncompetitive process. In a competitive bid, more than one party is interested in acquiring the lease for specific waters. BOEM will award the lease to the highest bidder above the fair market return, a minimum bid to provide the public a fair price. Once BOEM accepts a competitive bid, the lease holder must pay the bonus to ONRR. In an uncompetitive bid, a single party negotiates the lease amount with BOEM and is required to pay an Acquisition Fee.

  • 3


    Companies explore leased waters to locate suitable sites for constructing renewable energy infrastructure. The lease holder must submit a Site Assessment Plan, which includes a detailed proposal for constructing meteorological towers or installing meteorological buoys, to BOEM for approval. The lease holder may also be required to conduct site characterization studies to determine how renewable energy infrastructure will impact the surrounding environment (for example, avian, marine mammal, and archeological studies). BOEM then evaluates the plan and approves, modifies, or rejects the application.

    If BOEM approves the plan, the lease holder can begin the site assessment activities. During the exploration period, companies pay rent to ONRR.

  • 4


    To begin development and production, the lease holder submits a Construction and Operations Plan to BOEM. BOEM must approve this plan before construction can begin.

    BOEM issues two types of grants during development and production: right-of-way and easement. Right-of-way grants allow developers to build supporting structures, such as cables for wind energy projects. Easements similarly allow developers to build structures on the Outer Continental Shelf to support wind energy projects.

    During this period, ONRR collects annual rent from the lease holder. Once the wind facility produces energy, ONRR also collects an Operating Fee.

    As the wind energy projects progress, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections to enforce lease, safety, and environmental conditions.

  • 5

    Decommission and reclaim

    Two years before the end of the lease, the developer must submit a plan to decommission and remove the facilities. BSEE will then issue decommissioning permits and licenses. Currently, the government is continuing to develop the decommissioning process. However, developers must post bonds held by the government as insurance for decommissioning projects and complying with lease and other terms. If developers decommission projects, the government returns the bonds to the lease holder. If developers fail to decommission projects, the government uses the bonds to cover the cost of decommissioning.

  • Learn more

Revenue collected by ONRR


The amount the highest bidder paid for a natural resource lease.


$3.00 per acre


$0.25 per acre
acquisition fee
operating fee

Operating fees sometimes vary if they are otherwise specified or waived

Get involved

Participate in the offshore renewables leasing process.

Coastal States

BOEM has task forces in 16 coastal states to coordinate public engagement. Attend a meeting near you.


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