The Department of the Interior recently announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed its environmental review and will hold a wind-energy auction for two lease areas offshore of the Carolinas on May 11.
The lease areas cover 110,091 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes. The announcement is part of President Biden’s agenda to grow a clean-energy economy that harnesses offshore wind projects to strengthen U.S. energy independence, create good-paying jobs, and lower energy bills for consumers.
“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 Secretary Deb Haaland. “This is a 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.”
President Biden catalyzed the offshore wind energy industry by announcing the first-ever national offshore wind energy goal, creating a clear vision for the future of this innovative industry. This goal is reinforced by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will make historic investments to build a better America with clean energy, resilient infrastructure, and strong 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 (WEA), as described in BOEM’s Final Sale Notice (FSN), which is available in the Federal Register Reading Room. The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore, and wind-resource potential.
The FSN 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. Among the stipulations announced, BOEM will offer a 20 percent credit to bidders if they commit to invest in programs that will advance U.S. offshore wind-energy workforce training or supply chain development.
To advance BOEM’s communication and environmental justice goals, the leases will also require 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 our nation’s energy future for generations to come. These innovative stipulations were embraced in the Department’s recent lease sale for the New York Bight, which set a record as the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history, including oil and gas lease sales.
“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. “The milestones announced … mark significant progress in achieving this administration’s goal for deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030, while creating jobs and strengthening a sustainable domestic supply chain.”
In November 2021, BOEM published a proposed sale notice (PSN) 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 in the FSN by 14 percent 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.
A recent report indicates that the United States’ growing offshore wind-energy industry presents a $109 billion revenue opportunity to businesses in the supply chain over the next decade.