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Biden Administration Pledges Multi-Agency Support for Offshore Wind

block island
Courtesy Block Island Wind Farm

By The Maritime Executive 03-29-2021 02:17:00

The White House has released a comprehensive plan for federal support for the up-and-coming U.S. offshore wind industry, realigning the resources of multiple agencies in order to put a favorable breeze in its sails. 

"This commitment to a new, untapped industry will create pathways to the middle class for people from all backgrounds and communities," said White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy. "President Biden believes we have an enormous opportunity in front of us to not only address the threats of climate change, but use it as a chance to create millions of good-paying, union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery."

The effort spans the Departments of Interior, Energy, Transportation and Commerce. It includes:

- An official 30 gigawatt capacity target for offshore wind development by 2030. 

- A new priority "Wind Energy Area" in the New York Bight, between Long Island and the coast of New Jersey. BOEM will prioritize new leasing activity in this area, with a goal to hold the next lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022.

- Advancing BOEM's environmental impact statement (EIS) review for the Ocean Wind project, a 1.1 gigawatt proposed wind farm off the coast of New Jersey, and launching 10 more EIS reviews by the end of this year.  

- Commiting BOEM to review at least 16 construction and operation plans (COPs) by 2025, covering proposed developments totaling 19 gigawatts of renewable energy. 

- Assigning $230 million in funds from the Department of Transportation's Port Infrastructure Development Program for offshore wind port improvements, such as storage areas, laydown areas, and berth space for wind energy vessels

- Facilitating access to $3 billion in loan funding for wind development through the Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office. The White House said in a statement that the "LPO is open for business and ready to partner with offshore wind and offshore transmission developers, suppliers, and other financing partners."

The administration made clear that it is not just planning to review and permit offshore wind projects - it will weigh in with its considerable influence to support and promote their development. 

“This offshore wind goal is proof of our commitment to using American ingenuity and might to invest in our nation,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “[The Department of Energy] is going to marshal every resource we have to get as many American companies, using as many sheets of American steel, employing as many American workers as possible in offshore wind energy - driving economic growth from coast to coast.”