The U.S. administration on Wednesday proposed the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, as part of the government’s plan to spur offshore wind deployment beyond the East Coast.
The proposed sale is part of the leasing path announced by Secretary Haaland in 2021 to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and follows the Department’s approval of the nation’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects.
The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) announced Wednesday includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said it was seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the Final Sale Notice. These areas have the potential to power almost 1.3 million homes with clean energy, according to Interior Department.
“America’s clean energy transition is happening right here and now. At the Department, we are taking action to jumpstart our offshore wind industry and harness American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “There is no time to waste in making bold investments to address the climate crisis, and building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting that challenge head on.”
According to the Interior Department, since the start of the Biden-Harris administration, the Department has “held three offshore wind lease auctions – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore the Pacific Coast in California, initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic.”
“Good paying jobs”
BOEM is also seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders, the Interior Department said.
Some of these potential stipulations include bidding credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry, or a combination of both.
The potential stipulations also include establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico.
Also, lessees could be required to provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with Tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind activities.
If the Department decides to proceed with the sale, BOEM will publish a Final Sale Notice at least 30 days ahead of the sale, which would announce the time and date of the lease sale and the companies qualified to participate in it.
Commenting on the proposed Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale, Erik Milito, President of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), said:
“The announcement by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management of the Proposed Sale Notice for the first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale is an important step in the build-out of the U.S. offshore wind sector. Decades of innovation and experience has enabled the Gulf of Mexico to become a premier offshore energy region, including being a leader in low carbon oil and gas production.
“Through offshore wind, along with regular and predictable offshore oil and gas leasing, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico can expand its remarkable and irreplaceable energy portfolio. The energy, jobs, and investment opportunities from Gulf of Mexico offshore wind will be additive to the incredible benefits the offshore oil and gas sector provides our nation.
“The Gulf of Mexico is a true energy hub and there is already an amazing synergy between offshore oil and gas and offshore wind. NOIA members companies have been instrumental in the development and construction of offshore oil and gas projects and offshore wind projects. Now many Gulf Coast companies will have a chance to build new wind projects closer to home. The American offshore energy sector benefits for Americans of all walks of life and this relationship will strengthen with new offshore wind opportunities. We are excited for the offshore wind opportunity in the Gulf of Mexico.”
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