- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is evaluating the potential for new offshore wind leasing areas on the Central Atlantic and Pacific coasts, agency director Amanda Lefton said at the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum on Wednesday.
- The bureau plans to publish two calls for information on April 29 to determine possible offshore wind leasing areas that will support federal as well as state targets to add more than 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. BOEM seeks to assess commercial interest in the regions and to gather public input on the impacts of potential offshore wind development.
- BOEM is evaluating the potential of six leasing areas from the coast of North Carolina to Delaware and two areas off the coast of Oregon.
Since setting a goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Biden administration has approved the construction and operation plans of two large-scale projects and announced plans to hold up to seven new offshore lease sales by 2025. The U.S. can go beyond the 30 GW goal, Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said during the International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum on Wednesday.
"We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach President Biden’s bold goals, and advance environmental justice," Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
The most recent lease auction attracted a record-breaking $4.37 billion for six areas within the New York Bight. The high bids, caused by strong demand from developers, further signal a need for more leasing opportunities in the area, offshore wind advocates said in February.
The potential new leasing areas would address that demand, particularly on the East Coast.
"Opening new lease areas in the Central Atlantic will spark a second wave of domestic offshore wind development and bolster an emerging manufacturing core in places like Hampton Roads and Baltimore, and in Oregon, where the power of offshore wind can be unleashed along... the West Coast," Liz Burdock, CEO and president of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said in a statement.
The proposed call areas in the Central Atlantic would include areas expanding on existing leases, including Dominion Energy's large-scale offshore wind project off the coast of Virginia.
According to BOEM, the planning process for the region was prompted in part by former Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, D, who requested the creation of a regional task force to evaluate additional offshore wind leasing opportunities after the state committed to a clean energy standard in 2020.
In February, BOEM presented three potential call areas in Oregon, targeting 3 GW of offshore wind development.
While BOEM said the areas could support about 17 GW of renewable energy, the agency cited a study from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory saying only about 2,625 MW could be integrated into the state's grid without major transmission upgrades.
While the Department of the Interior began targeting the Oregon Coast for offshore wind energy production last year, Wednesday's announcement is a significant first regulatory step to leasing projects in the area.
BOEM is seeking comments for both the Oregon and Central Atlantic regions by June 28.