BOEM Reaches Key Milestone for First U.S. West Coast Offshore Wind Leases

BOEM takes final step for first offshore leases in California ahead of auction (file photo)

Posted on May 26, 2022 4:58 PM by

The Maritime Executive

Continuing with plans for the first-ever proposed offshore wind lease sale on the US West Coast, the US Department of the Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have released details of the proposed auction. This is the final stage, seeking public comment, of the process before the auction date is set and it also marks an important milestone for the floating offshore wind sector which will be used to develop these sites. .

A year ago, the Department of the Interior and California announced an agreement to advance wind energy development areas off California’s northern and central coasts. They worked on the inquiry and commentary process defining the specifics of the two regions of the outer continental shelf off California.

The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) announced today, which will be posted on the Federal Register on May 31, 2022, includes three proposed lease areas in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off central California and two proposed rental areas in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off northern California. BOEM said that, as currently defined, the three lease areas total approximately 373,268 acres which have the potential to produce over 4.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy.

“Today’s action represents tangible progress toward realizing the Biden administration’s vision for a clean energy future off California while creating a national supply chain and well-paying union jobs.” , said Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “BOEM is committed to vigorously engaging stakeholders and ensuring that any offshore wind energy lease is done in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts on the ocean and ocean users. The proposed sale advisory provides another opportunity for local communities, tribes, ocean users, developers and others to weigh in on potential offshore wind energy business in California.

The National Ocean Industries Association released a brief statement on social media this afternoon calling the development “big news,” as the trade group pleaded for the Biden administration to speed up the leasing process to achieve the target of 30 GW of offshore electricity by 2030.

The publication of the notices initiates a 60-day public comment period and provides detailed information on the proposed rental areas, proposed rental terms and conditions, and auction details. After reviewing the comments, BOEM would set the auction date they were aiming for later this year.

Among the lease stipulations BOEM is offering is a 2.5% bid credit for bidders who have signed or are committed to executing a Community Benefits Agreement with a community or ocean users. whose use of a lease area, or whose use of resources harvested from a lease area, is directly impacted by the lessee’s offshore wind development potential. Additionally, they are offering to offer a 20% bidding credit to bidders who commit to investing in programs that will advance the training of the offshore wind energy workforce in the States. United States, supply chain development, or both. Other elements call for doing your best to reach labor agreements with unions and involving local communities.

The Business Network for Offshore Wind welcomed the news noting that offshore wind in the Pacific Ocean requires floating turbines. The trade group said today’s announcement marks a simultaneous step forward in the development of the next generation of offshore wind technology.

“Floating markets are growing rapidly in Asia and Europe, creating a race to develop our own capabilities and position the United States as a global leader in this cutting-edge market,” said Liz Burdock, CEO and Founder of the Business Network for Offshore. Wind. “The advance of offshore wind on the West Coast is unlocking floating offshore turbine technology and will spark a modern gold rush to revolutionize the California energy sector with the development of offshore wind.”

To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and issued 25 active commercial wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The California lease sale will be the first in the Pacific region as developers recently placed an unsolicited bid with BOEM for sites up north along the Oregon Coast. The office is also moving forward to develop the first offshore wind lease auction for the Gulf of Mexico.