After offshore wind developers requested that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offer more acreage in the Gulf of Mexico for leasing. the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023 that it has finalized four new Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the area following the recent successful auction of the two initial Gulf of Mexico locations.
Together with the two existing WEAs, the four new ones could support offshore wind projects with the potential to produce enough clean, renewable energy to power more than three million homes. This announcement follows the first-ever Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale earlier this year.
“Creating an offshore wind industry in the Gulf of Mexico will take time and partnership. BOEM is pursuing another offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico due to continued industry interest and feedback from our partners and key stakeholders,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “BOEM will continue to work with the Tribes, other government partners, coastal states, ocean users, and local communities as we advance our work in a manner that seeks to responsibly develop offshore areas while minimizing potential conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Since 2021, BOEM has approved the nation’s first four commercial scale offshore wind projects, held four offshore wind lease auctions totaling almost $5.5 billion in high bids – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sales offshore the Pacific Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, initiated environmental reviews of 10 offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional opportunities in Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic. The Department of the Interior has also taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic based supply chain.
Before finalizing the WEAs, BOEM collaborated with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to build a model that analyzed the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to identify and minimize potential conflicts with marine resources and ocean users. BOEM also incorporated feedback from Tribes, other government agencies, ocean users, and others to help identify potential offshore locations that appeared most suitable for offshore wind energy development.
The four WEAs are:
- Option J: 495,567 acres located approximately 47.2 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 2.1 million homes.
- Option K: 119,635 acres located approximately 61.5 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 508,200 homes.
- Option L: 91,157 acres located approximately 52.9 miles off the coast of Texas, with the potential to support projects that could power 387,450 homes.
- Option N: 56,978 acres located approximately 82 miles off the coast of Louisiana with the potential to support projects that could power approximately 242,000 homes.
Maps of the WEAs can be found on BOEM’s website.
The next steps in BOEM’s renewable energy competitive leasing process include issuing a Proposed Sale Notice with a 60-day public comment period.
The first Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale brought in a high bid of $5.6 million from RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLC, for the Lake Charles Lease Area, which has the potential to support up to 1.24 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and power nearly 435,000 homes with clean, renewable energy.
For more information and all supporting documents, click here: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-mexico-activities.
About BOEM: The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is responsible for America’s offshore energy and mineral resources. The bureau promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.