Interior Department Takes Action to Advance Offshore Wind in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

Interior Department

As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Department of the Interior today announced three major milestones to advance commercial offshore wind energy development. The Department will propose a lease sale for wind energy development in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas; initiate an environmental review of Mayflower Wind’s proposal for a commercial wind energy project offshore Massachusetts; and request information to further assess commercial interest in wind energy leasing in the Gulf of Mexico. The Department is seeking public input on all three proposals.

“These milestones represent great potential for addressing climate change through a clean, reliable, domestic energy resource while providing good-paying jobs,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “We have an exciting road ahead, and Interior is up to the challenge! As we make progress toward deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, the Department will continue to ensure any development of clean energy resources is done responsibly and sustainably.”

The Biden-Harris administration has made significant progress to spur responsible offshore wind development. These efforts are driving the establishment of a robust U.S. domestic supply chain and the creation of a resilient clean energy economy. Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) completed its review of a Construction and Operations Plan for the Vineyard Wind project earlier this year, has 10 more underway, and plans to complete another five or more reviews by 2025 (for a total of at least 16 COP reviews). In addition to preparing for a lease sale offshore the Carolinas, the Administration is preparing for lease sales in the New York Bight and California next year and is actively working with states, Tribes and stakeholders to explore wind potential offshore the Gulf of Maine, Oregon, Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico.

“The milestones announced today should result in even greater confidence for industry to invest in offshore wind energy development,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “At the same time, we are asking for public input on all of these milestones because we want to do what we can to avoid, reduce or mitigate potential impacts to the marine environment and other ocean users when possible.”

Carolina Long Bay Proposed Lease Sale

BOEM is requesting public input on a proposed lease sale in federal waters in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore the Carolinas. BOEM will publish a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) in the Federal Register on Nov. 1, 2021, which will kick off a 60-day comment period ending on 11:59 p.m. ET on Jan. 3, 2022.

The proposed lease area consists of approximately 127,865 acres and includes the majority of the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, which has the potential to unlock more than 1.5 GW of offshore wind energy and power more than 500,000 homes. As stated in the PSN, BOEM requests public input on potentially dividing the proposed lease area into as many as three lease areas.

Within the PSN, BOEM is soliciting feedback on a “multi-factor auction format,” which would include a monetary bid and bidding credits to determine the outcome of the auction. BOEM is seeking comment on the use of bidding credits for contributions to workforce training or development of the U.S. domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry. Comments received by the end of the public comment period will be made available to the public and considered before BOEM decides whether to publish a Final Sale Notice, which would announce the time and date of the lease sale. 

Any prospective bidders wishing to participate in a Carolina Long Bay lease sale must submit qualification materials postmarked no later than Jan. 3, 2022. BOEM will host an auction seminar to discuss the auction format for prospective bidders.

The issuance of a lease resulting from this sale would not constitute an approval of project-specific plans to develop offshore wind energy facilities. Such plans, if submitted by the lessee, would be subject to subsequent environmental, technical, and public reviews prior to a decision on whether the proposed project should be authorized.

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