The Department of the Interior announced Thursday a final sale notice for offshore wind energy lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico, saying that the associated auction will take place in August.
The three lease areas have the potential to generate up to 3.7 GW, the DOI said. They include a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, that comprise 102,480 acres and 96,786 acres, respectively.
The final sale notice was published in the Federal Register today, and the areas are set to be auctioned on August 29. A mock auction will be held the day before.
The sixteen entities that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found qualified to bid are Avangrid Renewables, 547 Energy, Coastal Offshore Renewable Energy, energyRe Offshore Wind Holdings, Equinor Wind, Gulf Coast Offshore Wind, Gulf Wind Offshore, Hanwha Offshore North America, Hanwha Q Cells, Hecate Energy, Invenergy GOM Offshore Wind, RWE Offshore US Gulf, Shell New Energies, TotalEnergies Renewables USA, and US Mainstream Renewable Power.
In the final sale notice, BOEM says it will use a multiple-factor bidding process that will combine monetary and non-monetary factors and grant “credits” to potential bidders who make commitments such as supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, helping to develop the industry’s domestic supply chain, and establishing or contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund.
The workforce training and supply chain credit will be worth an equivalent of 20% of the cash bid, and the fishing mitigation credit worth 10%, the final sale notice says. However, both will require “an explicit financial commitment equal to the amount of the credit.”
BOEM had announced in May that its environmental review found no significant impacts to environmental resources from offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico, which cleared the way for Interior to move ahead with the final sale notice.
The lease sites are subsets of a 30-million-acre area west of the Mississippi River to the border of Texas and Mexico, which BOEM had first announced as a potential wind energy area in November 2021.
While siting the three lease areas, the agency partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build an ocean model that analyzed the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem to find areas that would result in the least ocean user conflict and environmental impact.
BOEM also used data and science collated by the Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to identify potential conflicts. The agency said in May that it plans to continue to meet with the task force as the lease sale process moves forward.
“The Gulf of Mexico is poised to play a key role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy future,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “Today’s announcement follows years of engagement with government agencies, states, ocean users, and stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico region.”