WASHINGTON — On May 26, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced another step forward in the Biden-Harris administration’s pursuit of a clean energy economy. The announcement explained the following steps and welcomed public comment on offshore wind lease sales in two regions on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California. This is the first-ever offshore wind lease sale proposed on America’s west coast.
In May 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, and Governor Gavin Newsom announced an agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California. The proposed sale is part of the leasing path announced last year by Secretary Haaland to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (G.W.) of offshore wind energy by 2030.
“The demand and momentum around our work to build a clean energy future is undeniable,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in the press release. “The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States. Today, we are taking another step toward unlocking the immense potential of offshore wind energy offshore our nation’s west coast to help combat the effects of climate change while creating good-paying jobs.”
The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) includes three proposed lease areas in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area and two proposed lease areas in northern California’s Humboldt Wind Energy Area. The two lease areas total 373,268 acres that have the potential to unlock over 4.5 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, power more than 1.5 million homes, and support thousands of new jobs.
“Today’s action represents tangible progress towards achieving the Administration’s vision for a clean energy future offshore California while creating a domestic supply chain and good-paying union jobs,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton. “BOEM is committed to robust stakeholder engagement and ensuring any offshore wind leasing is done in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users. The Proposed Sale Notice provides another opportunity for local communities, Tribes, ocean users, developers, and others to weigh in on potential wind energy activities offshore California.”
BOEM has held ten competitive lease sales and has issued 25 active commercial offshore wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina. The California lease sale will be the first in the Pacific region.
The PSN, published in the Federal Register on May 31, 2022, opens a 60-day public comment period and provides detailed information about the proposed lease areas, proposed lease provisions and conditions, and auction details.
BOEM seeks feedback on multiple lease stipulations that will advocate for its commitment to create good-paying union jobs and engage with Tribal governments, underserved communities, ocean users, and other stakeholders. Some of these potential stipulations include:
- A 2.5 percent bidding credit to bidders who have executed or committed to completing a community benefits agreement with a community or ocean users (i.e., commercial fisheries) whose use of a lease area or resources harvested from a lease area is directly impacted by the lessee’s potential offshore wind energy development.
- A 20 percent bidding credit to bidders who commit to investing in programs that will advance U.S. offshore wind energy workforce training, supply chain development, or both.
- A requirement that lessees make every reasonable effort to enter into a project labor agreement covering the construction of any project proposed for the lease area.
- Lessees need to engage with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users, and agencies. Lessees will be required to report on their engagement and make reasonable efforts to implement their projects to minimize and mitigate their projects’ adverse effects on these parties.
Comments received by the end of the public comment period will be made available on the BOEM California webpage and considered before deciding whether to publish a final sale notice, which would then announce the time and date of the lease sale, as well as list the companies qualified to participate in it.
Prospective bidders not previously qualified for a California lease sale must submit mandatory qualification materials to BOEM. Qualification materials must be postmarked no later than Aug. 1.