The Biden Administration is set to hold its first-ever offshore wind lease sale next month, auctioning a record of more than 480,000 acres offshore New York and New Jersey.
The February 23 auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on six lease areas, the most areas ever offered in a single auction, in an area known as the New York Bight. Leases offered could result in 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 2 million homes, according to the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
The Biden Administration has set a goal to install 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, complemented by state offshore wind policies and actions throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Collectively, New York and New Jersey have set the nation’s largest regional offshore wind target of installing over 16 GW of offshore wind by 2035.
“The Biden-Harris administration has made tackling the climate crisis a centerpiece of our agenda, and offshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “We are at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development. We must seize this moment – and we must do it together.”
A critical component will be developing a robust offshore wind domestic supply chain. A recent report by the The Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, an independent fact-based research organization, indicates that?the United States’ growing offshore wind industry presents a?$109 billion opportunity in?revenue?to businesses in the?supply chain over the next decade.
The New York Bight offshore wind auction will include several innovative lease stipulations, such as incentives to source major components domestically and project labor agreements to ensure projects are union-built, which are designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain for offshore wind and enhance engagement with Tribes, the commercial fishing industry, other ocean users, and underserved communities.
To advance the Department’s environmental justice and economic empowerment goals, the Sale Notice also requires lessees to identify Tribes, underserved communities and other ocean users who could be affected by offshore wind development.
“These additions are intended to promote offshore wind development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, while also facilitating our nation’s energy future for generations to come,” BOEM said in its statement.
BOEM initially asked for information and nominations of commercial interest for 1,735,154 acres in the Bight, but reduced the acreage by 72% to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts.
Under the Biden Administration, BOEM has already approved the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project (approved on May 11, 2021) and the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project (approved on November 24, 2021).
Currently, BOEM has 18 commercial offshore wind leases on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), and it recently announced plans to hold up to seven new offshore wind lease sales by 2025, which would represent more than 22 GW of clean energy for the nation. The seven potential leases will include areas in the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California later this year, to be followed by lease sales for the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Mexico, and offshore Oregon.
Earlier this month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a “nation-leading” $500 million investment in offshore wind to support the development of ports, manufacturing, and supply chain infrastructure necessary to secure New York’s position as a hub for the nascent offshore wind industry.
“Here in New York, we are already living with the effects of climate change through extreme weather that pose a direct threat to our way of life,” Governor Hochul said. “We must chart an ambitious path toward a cleaner energy economy now more than ever, and today’s milestone further highlights New York’s commitment to reaching it’s offshore wind goals. This effort will require collaboration at all levels, and I applaud the Biden Administration for their action and thank Secretary Haaland and BOEM, as well as New Jersey Governor Murphy, for their partnership as we build on New York’s offshore wind energy development.”
More on next month’s lease sale for the New York Bight can be found in BOEM’s Final Sale Notice.
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