Biden administration to hold first offshore wind energy lease sale in waters off California

Published on October 20, 2022 by Chris Galford

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Marking a first for wind energy, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) recently announced that an offshore wind energy lease sale will take place this December for areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) by central and northern California.

It will be the first-ever wind lease sale for America’s west coast and the Pacific Ocean and specifically aim to support commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development. Currently, the Department of the Interior has a deployment goal of 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.

“I am proud of the teams at the Interior Department that are moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy, including floating offshore wind energy, a reality for the United States,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “Today, we are taking another step toward unlocking the immense offshore wind energy potential off our nation’s west coast to help combat the effects of climate change while lowering costs for American families and creating good-paying union jobs.”

Announced at the American Clean Power Association’s Offshore WINDPOWER 2022 conference and exhibition, five OCS lease areas sprawling across 373,268 acres will be made available for purchase. Interior estimates put their potential for power production at more than 4.5 GW, centered on the Morro Bay and Humbolt areas.

On the eastern side of the country, such lease sales have been utilized for some time. BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales to date and issued 27 active commercial wind leases for areas stretching from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

“Today’s announcement represents years of close coordination and engagement with the state of California, Tribes, ocean users, local communities, and all interested parties to move us closer towards achieving the administration’s vision to fight climate change and realizing California’s clean energy future while creating a domestic supply chain and good-paying union jobs,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, speaking at the conference, said. “BOEM remains committed to ensuring transparency and active engagement with stakeholders throughout the post-leasing process.”

The California Final Sale Notice, to be published in the Federal Register later this week, will detail more about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, and general auction details, along with notes on companies qualified to participate in the lease auction. Bidding credits will be offered for bidders with plans for community benefit agreements or to invest in workforce training or supply chain development. Still, bidders will also have to make efforts to enter into project labor agreements and engage with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users, and agencies.