US Sets Date for First-Ever Offshore Wind Lease Sale on West Coast and First-Ever to Support Floating Wind

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an offshore wind lease sale in California on 6 December. This will be the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on the US Pacific coast and the first-ever through which the country will support commercial-scale floating wind farms.

On 6 December, BOEM will offer five areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off central and northern California that total approximately 373,268 acres. Three lease areas are located off central California and two are off northern California, all expected to accommodate floating wind technology.

The areas have the potential to house over 4.5 GW of offshore wind installed capacity. This could power more than 1.5 million homes, according to a press release from the US Department of the Interior (DOI).

BOEM has now issued the Final Sale Notice (FSN) that provides details about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, auction details, and identifies qualified companies who can participate in the lease auction.

The FSN, which will be published in the Federal Register later this week, also includes several stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust US supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and create good paying union jobs, the DOI said.

Among these stipulations are bidding credits that BOEM will offer for bidders who enter into community benefit agreements, or invest in workforce training or supply chain development.

The US Government will also require the winners of the lease sale to make efforts to enter into project labour agreements, and to engage with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users, and agencies.

“Today’s announcement represents years of close coordination and engagement with the state of California, Tribes, ocean users, local communities and all interested parties to move us closer towards achieving the administration’s vision to fight climate change and realizing California’s clean energy future, while creating a domestic supply chain and good-paying union jobs”, BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said on 18 October.

This lease sale will be critical to achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s deployment goal of 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, as well as the recently announced floating wind target of 15 GW by 2035, according to the DOI.

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“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable. I am proud of the teams at the Interior Department that are moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy, including floating offshore wind energy, a reality for the United States”, said Interior 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”.

Secretary Haaland and California Governor Gavin Newsom joined Biden-Harris administration leaders in May 2021 to announce an agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore California.

A year later, this May, the DOI and BOEM issued a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for potential commercial wind energy development at the five areas within the two previously identified Wind Energy Areas: the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area and Humboldt Wind Energy Area.

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The same month, BOEM announced the completion of its Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area, which assesses potential impacts from the issuance of leases within the area, and issued a finding of no significant impacts (FONSI).

At the beginning of October, BOEM said it had completed the same work for the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area.

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Photo: Illustration; WindFloat Atlantic floating wind farm offshore Portugal. Source: Principle Power