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BOEM Sets May Auction Date for First Carolinas Offshore Wind Leases

Carolina offshore wind auction scheduled
Carolina auction is scheduled for May 2022 covering over 110,000 acres (file photo)

Published Mar 25, 2022 12:45 PM by The Maritime Executive

Following the strong success of the auctions of leases off the coast of New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Department of the Interior scheduled its next auctions for an area off the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina known as Carolina Long Bay. The auction, which is scheduled for May 11, is for just over 110,000 acres in two leases with a goal of establishing at least 1.3 GW of offshore power generation.

“The upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction provides yet another excellent opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “This is a historic time for domestic offshore wind energy development. We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach the President’s goals.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) reported that it had completed its environmental review of the area, a process that began in November 2021 when BOEM published a Proposed Sale Notice and requested public comments on the proposed leasing. Based on the bureau’s review of scientific data and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage available for leasing by 14 percent from the proposed 128,000 acres.

Carolina Long Bay lies east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with the closest land point being about 15 miles to the north, Bald Head Island, North Carolina. The auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on one or both of the lease areas. The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore, and wind resource potential.

The auction includes several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and encourage project labor agreements. Among the stipulations announced today, BOEM will offer a 20 percent credit to bidders if they commit to invest in programs that will advance U.S. offshore wind energy workforce training or supply chain development.

“BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development offshore North Carolina is done responsibly, in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “The milestones announced today mark significant progress in achieving this Administration’s goal for deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 while creating jobs and strengthening a sustainable domestic supply chain.”

The Carolina auction will be the second major auction undertaken by the Biden administration. In addition to the New York auction in February, the administration reports it is moving forward on five other potential lease sales by 2025. Lease sales offshore California and Oregon, as well as in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico are expected to follow after the Carolina auction. Among the other sites under consideration is a second area off North Carolina, Kitty Hawk, In July 2021 BOEM reported that it would begin preparing environmental impact studies for the location and in August conducted scoping meetings.