- The Biden administration on Monday announced a concerted effort between the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of the Interior, Energy, Commerce and Transportation, to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, and 110 GW by 2050.
- The Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) also announced the plan to auction nearly 800,000 acres in the New York Bight, an area that stretches from Long Island, New York, to the New Jersey coast, for offshore wind development. Developers have time to comment on the process until April 28, as BOEM conducts an environmental assessment for potential leasing.
- The Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also announced a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with offshore wind developer Ørsted to use its data from projects for ocean mapping, unlocking data-sharing potential with offshore developers. "Don't let Ørsted be the only one ... we want to see MOAs from the rest of you," Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said during a virtual announcement.
The Biden administration is pursuing coordination with states on offshore wind transition, which experts have noted will be key in hubs of development across the East Coast.
Several New England states have called on the regional grid operator, ISO New England, to make changes to the ttransmission system as new offshore wind and other clean energy resources come online.
In 2020, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) directed developers to submit their own transmission solutions in their bids, while New Jersey chose to partner with PJM Interconnection toward a more centralized transmission solicitation.
"Different states are approaching the issue in different ways and it will be important to have federal leadership moving forward because so much of it is within the purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and interstate considerations," Noah Shaw, partner in the energy and climate practice of Foley Hoag, said.
The Department of Energy (DOE) expects to offer $3 billion in loans to the offshore industry, in addition to awarding $8 million to research and development projects through a separate existing program.
In addition, the DOE's 30 GW deployment target "helps provide investors the market certainty they need, and aligning siting and permitting with this deployment target is a vital piece of the puzzle. Having a clear policy pathway is essential as states work to achieve increasingly ambitious clean energy goals," said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy.
The offshore wind federal coordination plan came as BOEM announced it will begin preparing an environmental impact statement for Ørsted's 1.1 GW Ocean Wind project, off of New Jersey. The agency is finalizing environmental reviews for Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts and South Fork Wind in Rhode Island.
"[B]ased on conversations we have had, and their public statements, BOEM is fully aware of the backlog and the announcement of environmental reviews for 13 offshore wind projects ... before the end of 2021 is a massive accomplishment in its own right and would itself drive the industry forward in a meaningful way," Brandon Burke, VP of policy and regulatory engagement at the U.S. Business Network for Offshore Wind, said.
In the last five years, East Coast states have been pursuing offshore wind, soliciting new capacity and supporting the buildout of specialized port infrastructure for the large turbines. The new federal effort would help promote offshore wind, a technology that has taken off in Europe, to expand to other areas.
Research firm Wood Mackenzie established in a study last summer that BOEM leasing activities in the next two years could lead to a boom in jobs and capital investment by extending leasing in the New York Bight and off the coast of the Carolinas by 2030, and in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of California by 2035. Those leases would support 80,000 jobs annually during the period of buildout and 20,500 jobs annually beyond 2035, according to Wood Mackenzie. The report informed the Biden administration's goal to add tens of thousands of jobs by supporting the industry.
The Interior Department announced it will consider 16 more areas to lease for offshore wind development by 2025, as the administration pursues offshore wind buildout along the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico as well.
As far as East Coast development, the offshore wind industry has long asked for additional leasing, given the lucrative recent auctions and the demand for offshore wind.
"This expansion is yet another recognition of the vast benefits this industry will provide in creating jobs, rehabilitating ports, spurring economic activity, and delivering clean, renewable energy to millions of homes and businesses. New leases offer the industry an opportunity to continue to engage with stakeholders and work together with local industries to usher in an economy that works for everyone," David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted’s's Offshore North America, said in a statement.
BOEM's proposed sale notice in the New York Bight "is a strong testament to the expedition with which the administration, and BOEM's new Director, Amanda Lefton, are committed to move the offshore wind ball forward," Shaw, former general counsel at NYSERDA, said.
The New York Bight leasing resulted from a proposal by NYSERDA in September 2017, during which Lefton led the energy policy team of the New York governor's office.