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BOEM opens auction for California offshore wind rights

The California sale could test industry appetite for investing in floating offshore wind technology.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management launched an online auction December 6 marking the first sale of offshore wind development rights for waters off the coast of California.

Projects developed in the area could one day power 1.5 million homes, according to Interior. BOEM will auction five lease areas equal to a combined 373,267 acres (151,056 hectares) off the state’s north and central coasts.

(Second round bids as of mid-morning ranged from $6.3 million to $13.8 million for Northern California lease areas. Bids ranged from $8 million to $16 million for Central California lease areas. Renewable Energy World will report on the winning bids as that information becomes available.)

Previous federal offshore wind auctions have been for leases in shallower waters of the Atlantic Ocean. BOEM held two auctions earlier this year, including one that drew a record $4.37 billion in bids, mainly from European energy companies, for development rights off New York and New Jersey.

The California sale could test industry appetite for investing in floating offshore wind technology. To date, that technology has been limited to pilot projects in places such as Norway and Portugal.

Companies approved to bid at the auction include Avangrid Inc, Orsted and Equinor, which are all developing projects on the U.S. East Coast.

The list of 43 potential bidders also includes California developer Castle Wind and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a government agency in northern Humboldt County.

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