Up to 9.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy could be generated on lease tracts in the New York Bight outlined by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency says.

Two weeks before a meeting with state and regional agencies in New York City, BOEM issued a draft plan for wind energy areas (WEAs) off the coasts of New York and New Jersey – a key stop toward preparing for future lease sales, like those already sold off southern New England.

The draft plan outlines up to 793,862 acres of what BOEM calls primary and secondary areas. Primary alone total 315,268 acres, which the agency says could accommodate around 3.8 gigawatts of wind-generated power.

The draft WEAs are far smaller than the initial “call areas” first outlined when BOEM began a public comment process that led to vocal objections from the commercial fishing industry, and calls for vessel transit areas with deep setbacks from where future wind turbine arrays could be built.

During that process James Bennett, chief of BOEM’s renewable energy program, cautioned that the likely outcome would recommend only a fraction of the call areas for future leasing proposals.

On charts released Wednesday by the agency, “the dark green areas are BOEM’s primary recommendations, areas that relative to others with in the Call Areas present the least amount of conflict with a potential offshore wind facility,” according to the agency.

“Areas is light green are secondary recommendations, which are slightly more conflicted than the dark green areas, and are where BOEM welcomes additional stakeholder perspectives.”

There will be much discussion of those conflicts when BOEM holds its intergovernmental task force meeting Nov. 28 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City.

BOEM has already put developers with New England leases on notice that they will be required to set aside vessel transit lanes, one demand from the commercial fishing industry that says crews need broad safety zones to return to port during bad weather.

Likewise the Coast Guard and advisors from the maritime industry have recommended broad transit lanes for offshore tug and tow traffic that cuts diagonally across the New York Bight, between Cape May, N.J., and Montauk Point, N.Y.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.