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US government unveils plans for Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale

4C Offshore | Tom Russell
By: Tom Russell 23/02/2023 DOI
The US Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), proposed the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) covers a 102,480 acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the Final Sale Notice. It claims these areas have the potential to power almost 1.3 million homes with clean energy.

BOEM is also seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of these potential stipulations include bidding credits to bidders that commit to supporting workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry, or a combination of both.

The proposed stipulations also include establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico.

Furthermore, BOEM is proposing lessees provide a regular progress report summarising engagement with Tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind activities.

The PSN will publish in the Federal Register later this month and initiates a 60-day public comment period. If the Department decides to proceed with the sale, BOEM will publish a Final Sale Notice at least 30 days ahead of the sale, which would announce the time and date of the lease sale and the companies qualified to participate in it.

The proposed sale is part of the leasing path announced by Secretary Haaland in 2021 to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and follows the Department’s approval of the nation's first two commercial scale offshore wind projects.

To date, BOEM has held 11 competitive lease sales and issued 27 active commercial wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina. At the end of 2022, BOEM conducted its first auction for floating wind leases in the US federal waters. The much anticipated auction in California saw seven companies bidding, with five lease sites allocated  for between $130 million and $173.8 million each. The California auction included two areas in Humboldt (northern California) and three in Morro Bay (central California), and BOEM estimates their capacities to total 4.5 GW, although the new leaseholders are anticipating almost double this.


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