offshore wind farm with vessel in foreground

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Biden Administration Planning Up to Seven Offshore Wind Lease Sales

Mike Schuler
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October 13, 2021

The Biden Administration is making plans to potentially hold up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025 as part of its goal to increase renewable energy production on federal land and waters, including deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

On the table are areas of the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf from the Gulf of Maine to Oregon.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haalan announced the plans Wednesday during a speech at the American Clean Power’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Boston, Massachussettes.

“The Interior Department is laying out an ambitious roadmap as we advance the Administration’s plans to confront climate change, create good-paying jobs, and accelerate the nation’s transition to a cleaner energy future,” said Secretary Haaland. “This timetable provides two crucial ingredients for success: increased certainty and transparency. Together, we will meet our clean energy goals while addressing the needs of other ocean users and potentially impacted communities. We have big goals to achieve a clean energy economy and Interior is meeting the moment.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) lease sales are being planned for waters in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, and Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore the Carolinas, California, and Oregon.

In addition to the 30GW by 2030 target, President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, sets a target goal of permitting at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025.

BOEM is working on refining its process for identifying additional Wind Energy Areas and developing clear goals, objectives, and guidelines that can be shared with government agencies, Tribes, industry, ocean users, and others prior to identifying such areas. In addition, BOEM work to minimize conflict with existing uses and marine life based on science as well as knowledge from ocean users and other stakeholders.

“We are working to facilitate a pipeline of projects that will establish confidence for the offshore wind industry,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “At the same time, we want to reduce potential conflicts as much as we can while meeting the Administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. This means we will engage early and often with all stakeholders prior to identifying any new Wind Energy Areas.”

In addition to identifying new offshore wind lease sales, BOEM is considering innovative lease stipulations consistent the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, such as lessee reporting requirements on efforts to minimize conflicts with other ocean users; mechanisms for project labor agreements; and investments in the U.S. domestic supply chain.

Earlier this year, BOEM completed its review of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the Vineyard Wind project, the first full-scale offshore wind project to receive federal approval. After its recent financial close, the project this week placed its order for more than 60 of the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines.

BOEM is also currently reviewing nine additional COPs with plans to complete the review of at least another six by 2025, for a total of at least 16 COP reviews representing more than 19 GW of clean energy.

This all comes as President Biden is getting ready to hold its first offshore oil and gas lease sale in November, but only under a court order overturning the Administration’s suspension of oil and gas leasing.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in June proposed holding a competitive offshore wind lease sale, the first under the current administration, for the New York Bight, a shallow water area between Long Island and the New Jersey. The proposed lease areas is advertised as having over 7GW of offshore wind potential, enough to power more than 2.6 million homes.

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