Four New Wind Energy Areas Designated in Gulf of Mexico
WASHINGTON — Four new offshore wind energy areas with a combined potential to power more than 3 million homes have been finalized as ready to lease by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The announcement on Friday follows the first-ever Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale earlier this year.
“Creating an offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico will take time and partnership,” said Elizabeth Klein, the agency’s director, in a written statement.
“BOEM is pursuing another offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico due to continued industry interest and feedback from our partners and key stakeholders,” she said, adding that her agency is continuing to work with coastal states, native tribes, other government partners, ocean users and local communities as it continues to responsibly develop offshore areas while minimizing potential conflicts.
Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, the bureau has approved the nation’s first four commercial scale offshore wind projects, held four offshore wind lease auctions totaling almost $5.5 billion in high bids, initiated environmental reviews of 10 offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional opportunities in Oregon, the Gulf of Maine and the Central Atlantic.
Before finalizing the wind energy areas, the bureau collaborated with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to build a model that analyzed the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to identify and minimize potential conflicts with marine resources and ocean users.
It also incorporated feedback from tribes, other government agencies, ocean users and others to help identify potential offshore locations that appeared most suitable for offshore wind energy development.
The four new wind energy areas are:
- Option J: 495,567 acres located approximately 47.2 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 2.1 million homes.
- Option K: 119,635 acres located approximately 61.5 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 508,200 homes.
- Option L: 91,157 acres located approximately 52.9 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 387,450 homes.
- Option N: 56,978 acres located approximately 82 miles off the coast of Louisiana with the potential to support projects that could power approximately 242,000 homes.
The next steps in the competitive leasing process include the issuance of a proposed sale notice with a 60-day public comment period.
The first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale brought in a high bid of $5.6 million from RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLC, for the Lake Charles Lease Area, which agency officials said has the potential to support up to 1.24 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and power nearly 435,000 homes.