First U.S. Pacific Offshore Wind Lease Sale Scheduled for December
The date was set for the first-ever sale of offshore wind energy leases for the U.S. Pacific Coast. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that the sale will proceed on December 6 as part of the Biden Administration’s ongoing commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and an additional 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035. It is also the first-ever U.S. sale to support potential commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development.
The California Final Sale Notice, which will be published in the Federal Register later this week, provides detailed information about the final lease areas, which include three areas off central California and two lease areas off northern California. The Humboldt area is located off the coast of Northern California near Eureka and consists of two areas, one over 63,000 acres and the other over 69,000 acres. The Morro Bay area in Southern California consists of three leases, each of which is over 80,000 acres.
“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable,” 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.”
BOEM reports that the five California lease areas total approximately 373,268 acres with the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy. Combined they will be able to produce power for more than 1.5 million homes.
The sale notice will contain full details on the lease provisions and conditions and auction details. It also identifies qualified companies that can participate in the lease auction. It also includes 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.
The leases are also significant as they will be the first large U.S. projects which due to their depth will require the use of floating wind turbines. The Biden administration last month announced a new R&D initiative with the goal of reducing the cost of floating offshore wind energy by at least 70 percent - to $45 per megawatt-hour - by 2035. They also outlined the further target for the additional 15 GW of wind energy generation from floating projects.
“This historic announcement marks a significant milestone for offshore wind in this country and on the west coast,” said JC Sandberg, interim CEO of the trade group the American Clean Power Association after today’s announcement from Secretary Haaland. “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.”
The California sale will be the third auction BOEM has conducted this year after the very successful sale for the New York Bight in February 2022 and a smaller sale off the Carolinas in May. The administration is also working to conduct the first wind lease auctions in the Gulf of Mexico as well as expand projects along the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. In April a company made an unsolicited proposal for a wind project near Washington state and work is also progressing on defining lease areas near Oregon. 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.