The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) latest offshore wind energy lease auction resulted in $315 million in winning bids for two lease areas in federal waters off of North Carolina and South Carollna.
The Carolina Long Bay auction offered two similarly-sized lease areas totaling 110,091 acres in the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (WEA) that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy, or enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.
Two companies, TotalEnergies Renewables USA, LLC and Duke Energy Renewables Wind, LLC, submitted winning bids of $160 million and $155 million, respectively, for the two areas.
The commercial leases give the lease holders the exclusive right to develop the areas for offshore wind energy production after a federal review and approval process.
The Carolina Long Bay offshore wind auction also included a new 20% credit for bidders committing them to financing for programs or initiatives that support workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry or development of a U.S. domestic supply chain for the offshore wind energy industry. BOEM said this credit will result in $42 million for the programs.
“This auction puts real dollars on the table to support economic growth from offshore wind energy development – including the jobs that come with it,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “The new bidding credit in the Carolina Long Bay auction will result in tangible investments for workforce training and businesses in the United States, to ultimately create jobs in the U.S. across the industries needed to support achieving our offshore wind goals.”
The wind lease auctions are viewed as a barometer of commercial interest in the sector.
The American Clean Power (ACP) Assoctionation said the auction’s result demonstrates the momentum of U.S. offshore wind sector.
“This lease sale shows the strong demand for clean energy, and it should also be a sign to Congress to repeal the 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida,” said Heather Zichal, ACP’s CEO. “Creating a stable policy platform for offshore wind development and facilitating the first wave of significant projects will provide certainty for the industry, strengthen the workforce, and bolster domestic supply chains up and down the coasts and across the country.”
The Carolina Long Bay auction, BOEM’s 10th offshore wind lease sale dating back to 2013, follows the success of the larger New York Bight lease auction held in February, which attracted $4.37 billion in winning bids making it the highest-grossing offshore energy lease sale in U.S. history—including oil and gas.
To achieve its goal of deploying 30GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Biden Administration is planning to hold up to seven lease sales by 2025, including the Carolina Long Bay and New York Bight lease sales. Lease sales are also being planned for offshore California and Oregon, as well as in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico. All revenue from the lease sales go to the U.S. Treasury.
“The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Together with an all-of-government approach, we can combat the effects of climate change while creating good-paying union jobs that can benefit underserved communities. Today’s lease sale is further proof that there is strong industry interest and that America’s clean energy transition is here.”
Before the leases are finalized, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission will first need to review them for anti-competitiveness.
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