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Biden admin. outlines terms for California’s first offshore wind auction

In total, approximately 373,268 acres will be up for auction with the potential to develop more than 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 1.5 million homes.
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The Biden administration has outlined the terms for California's first offshore wind lease auctions.

The Proposed Sale Notice includes three proposed lease areas in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off central California and two proposed lease areas in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off northern California.

In total, approximately 373,268 acres will be up for auction with the potential to develop more than 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 1.5 million homes.

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The PSN, released by the Dept. of the Interior, was published in the Federal Register on May 31 and launched a 60-day public comment period. The notice also outlines stipulations for offshore wind developers that prioritize workforce training, domestic supply chain development, community benefits, and engagement.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is seeking feedback on several lease stipulations, including:

  • A 2.5% bidding credit to bidders who have executed or commit to executing a community benefit agreement with a community or ocean users (e.g., commercial fisheries) whose use of a lease area, or whose use of resources harvested from a lease area, is directly impacted by the lessee’s potential offshore wind energy development.
  • A 20% bidding credit to bidders who commit to invest 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.
  • Requirements for lessees 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 in a manner that minimizes and mitigates their projects’ adverse effects, if any, on these parties.

BOEM hasn’t yet set a date for the Morro Bay or Humboldt WEA lease auctions, although agency officials have signaled that the intent is to hold the Pacific Coast’s first offshore wind lease auctions together this fall.

The respective depths of 900-1,300m and 500-1,100m for the Morro Bay and Humboldt WEAs require floating offshore wind technology.

(Industry leaders from Aker Offshore Wind, Principle Power, BOEM, and Offshore Wind California discussed the next steps for the floating offshore wind industry in a recent RENEWABLE+ Series virtual event, which can now be viewed for free on-demand.)

Interest in the California offshore wind leases is expected to be high.

Ørsted, Shell, Ocean Winds (EDP Renewables/ENGIE), Equinor, bp, RWE Renewables, Castle Wind (TotalEnergies/Trident Winds), Arevia Power, JERA Renewables NA, Marubeni Power International, and Aker Offshore Wind are among the companies that responded to BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations for the Morro Bay WEA

To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and has issued 25 active commercial offshore wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

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