morro bay

A view of Morro Bay, California from Montana de Oro State Park, Los Osos, California. Photo: Mike Schuler

Biden Administration Sets Date for First West Coast Offshore Wind Lease Sale

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 925
October 18, 2022

The Biden Administration has set a date for holding the first offshore wind lease sale on the U.S. West Coast off of central and northern California. The sale will also be the first-ever in the U.S. to support commercial-scale floating offshore wind, which can be located in deeper waters, as the administration seeks to expand the use of floating wind technology.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold the sale on December 6, 2022, offering five California Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease areas that total approximately 373,268 acres in two wind energy areas (WEAs) off Morro Bay on the central coast and Humboldt County in northern California.

The WEAs have the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 1.5 million homes.

“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,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, who was set to address the Offshore WINDPOWER 2022 Conference on Tuesday. “BOEM remains committed to ensuring transparency and active engagement with stakeholders throughout the post-leasing process.”

The sale is planned as part of the Biden Administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035. The latter target was announced last month along with a $50 million commitment from the Department of Energy to fund research and development into floating wind technology and demonstration projects. The Energy Department is aiming to bring costs of floating wind down by 70% to $45 per megawatt-hour.

To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and issued 27 active commercial wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The California sale will be third of up to seven sales that the Biden Administration is planning to hold by 2025. In February, the New York Bight offshore wind lease sale attracted a record $4.37 billion in high bids, while the Carolina Long Bay offshore wind sale held in May received $315 million in winning bids. Additional sales are being planned for not only offshore California, but also Oregon, the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico.

The announcement of the California sale comes about a year and half after DOI Secretary Deb Haaland and California Governor Gavin Newsom announced?an agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California.

“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable. 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,” said?Secretary Deb Haaland. “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.”

The Final Sale Notice (FSN) for the California sale will be published?in the Federal Register later this week, providing detailed information about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, and auction details.?It also identifies qualified companies who can participate in the lease auction.

The FSN includes three lease areas off central California and two lease areas off northern California, along with several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and create good paying union jobs.

Among the stipulations announced today, BOEM will offer bidding credits for bidders who enter into community benefit agreements or invest in workforce training or supply chain development; require winning bidders to make efforts to enter into project labor agreements; and require engagement with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users, and agencies.

“This historic announcement marks a significant milestone for offshore wind in this country and on the west coast. This shows what can happen when we tap into the abundant renewable energy resources we have across the U.S., including along our coastlines,” said JC Sandberg, interim CEO of American Clean Power. “This lease sale reflects an all-of-government approach that brought together multiple federal and state agencies. It puts California on a path as a global hub for offshore wind technology that will foster thousands of good-paying American maritime and manufacturing jobs while boosting the domestic offshore wind supply chain.”

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