Biden Administration to Lease 110K Undersea Acres for Wind Energy Development
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will hold an auction on May 11 for the lease on two massive undersea tracts off the coast of the Carolinas to advance wind farm development in the area.
Together the two parcels, which are located in what is known as the Carolina Long Bay area, comprise about 110,091 acres. If fully developed, the White House believes, the area could produce as much as 1.3 GW of offshore wind energy, or enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.
The Interior Department and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management are overseeing the auction, which is seen as furthering Biden’s agenda to grow a clean energy economy.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction provides yet another excellent opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in a written statement.
“This is an historic time for domestic offshore wind energy development. We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach the president’s bold goals and advance environmental justice,” Haaland said.
In March 2021, Biden announced the first-ever national offshore wind energy goal, creating a clear vision for the future of the industry.
Specifically, the president said he wanted to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030, and expected that by doing so, the sector would add some 44,000 jobs, including 33,000 more in communities directly supporting the offshore wind industry.
The drive to meet that goal was reinforced last fall, administration officials said, with the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is now providing funding for clean energy projects, investments in resilient infrastructure, and promoting stronger domestic manufacturing and supply chains.
The Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on one or both of the lease areas within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, as described in BOEM’s Final Sale Notice, which is available in the Federal Register Reading Room. The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore, and wind resource potential.
The Final Sale Notice includes several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning and encourage project labor agreements, officials said.
Among the stipulations, BOEM will offer a 20% credit to bidders if they commit to invest in programs that will advance U.S. offshore wind energy workforce training or supply chain development.
The administration is also requiring potential lessees to identify Tribal Nations, underserved communities, agencies, ocean users and other interested stakeholders and report on their communication and engagement activities with these parties.
These stipulations are intended to promote offshore wind energy development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses and protects the ocean environment, while also facilitating the nation’s energy future.
“BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development offshore North Carolina is done responsibly, in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton in a written statement.
In November 2021, BOEM published a Proposed Sale Notice and requested public comments on the proposed leasing of nearly 128,000 acres in the Wilmington East WEA.
Based on the bureau’s review of scientific data and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders, and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage available for leasing iby 14% from the areas proposed in the PSN to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. BOEM will continue to engage with its partners and stakeholders as the process unfolds.
In addition, this past fall the administration announced a new leasing path forward, which identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the upcoming Carolina Long Bay lease sale and last month’s New York Bight lease sale. Lease sales offshore California and Oregon, as well as in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico are expected to follow.
More information about the FSN, lease stipulations, the list of qualified bidders for the auction, and auction procedures can be found on BOEM’s Carolina Long Bay website.