In another step to grow America’s clean energy economy, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is proposing the first-ever offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico. The announcement today, February 22, 2023 is part of the federal government’s latest actions to expand offshore wind opportunities to more regions of the country, building on investments in the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to spur offshore wind deployment and create good-paying jobs for American workers.
“America’s clean energy transition is happening right here and now. At the Department, we are taking action to jumpstart our offshore wind industry and harness American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “There is no time to waste in making bold investments to address the climate crisis, and building a strong domestic offshore wind industry is key to meeting that challenge head on.”
The proposed sale is part of the leasing path announced by Secretary Haaland in 2021 to meet the nation’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and follows the DOI’s approval of the nation’s first two commercial scale offshore wind projects.
Since 2021, the DOI has held three offshore wind lease auctions – including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale offshore the Pacific Coast in California, initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects, and advanced the process to explore additional Wind Energy Areas in Oregon, Gulf of Maine and Central Atlantic. The DOI has also taken steps to evolve its approach to offshore wind to drive towards union-built projects and a domestic based supply chain.
“BOEM is committed to ensuring any offshore wind activities are done in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users,” said Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Elizabeth Klein. “Today’s announcement comes after years of engagement with Tribes, other government agencies, ocean users and stakeholders, and this proposed sale notice provides another opportunity for them to weigh in on potential offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) announced today includes 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. 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 good-paying 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.
- 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.
- Requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing 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.
Guice Offshore will track these developments and provide a report to our offshore wind clients.
To find out how to comment on the PSN, go to BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico Activities webpage.
Inaugural Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit Advances Technologies to Power Millions of Homes, Create Good-Paying Jobs, and Strengthen U.S. Energy Security
- Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit continues through Thursday, Feb. 23. Register to attend HERE (it’s free)!
In another press release issued today, February 22, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced new investments to secure U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind development by advancing offshore wind transmission planning, research and technology and partnerships as part of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit with the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce, and Transportation convening stakeholders today to drive progress.
With two-thirds of America’s offshore wind resource located in deep-water areas that require floating platforms, capturing this vast potential could bring the benefits of clean power to millions of American homes and businesses. Today’s new actions support the goals of the Administration’s Floating Offshore Wind Shot to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind energy by more than 70% by 2035 and deploy 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035. These coordinated actions will help position the U.S. to lead the world on floating offshore wind technology, create thousands of good-paying jobs, lower energy costs for families, and strengthen U.S. energy security.
“Floating offshore wind offers untapped opportunities for us to produce clean, reliable and affordable power for millions,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden wants America to become a global leader of offshore wind technology and deployment, and with his historic climate investments, DOE is capturing this potential to spur private investment, boost the domestic supply chain and deliver on our bold clean energy goals.”
Alongside other offshore wind efforts highlighted today in a White House Fact Sheet, DOE is advancing new efforts including:
With funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, DOE is launching a new West Coast Offshore Wind Transmission Study, a 20-month analysis examining how the country can expand transmission to harness power from floating offshore wind for West Coast communities. The study will use its findings to develop practical plans through 2050 to address transmission constraints that currently limit offshore wind development along the nation’s West Coast. It is also expected to evaluate multiple pathways to reaching offshore wind goals while supporting grid reliability, resilience, and ocean co-use.
This study marks the first announcement stemming from $100 million included within the Inflation Reduction Act for transmission planning and complements an analysis released today by DOE that evaluates existing West Coast offshore wind energy transmission research. The analysis identifies deployment gaps that the wind industry must address to successfully develop offshore wind energy off the nation’s West Coast.
New research partnership and initiatives
Today, DOE announced the following research investments and collaborations:
- Expansion of National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (NOWRDC): NOWRDC, a research consortium funded by DOE and others, announced that California is becoming the seventh state, and first state located along the West Coast, to join the Consortium. Pending final approval, California and the Consortium will collaborate to fund R&D projects that directly respond to critical, near-term offshore wind development priorities. California’s addition to the Consortium will bring a new focus on reducing costs of floating offshore wind for ratepayers.
- Initiation of Offshore Wind Operations and Maintenance Roadmap. DOE and its Sandia National Laboratories and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) announced the development of an industry-informed roadmap for new operations and maintenance technologies and processes to enhance the cost-effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability at offshore wind sites.
- Lidar Buoy Deployment in Hawaii: DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have deployed a floating scientific research buoy located approximately 15 miles east of Oahu, Hawaii to collect offshore wind resource, meteorological, and oceanographic data.
These initiatives reiterate the whole-of-government approach to seizing a generational opportunity for the United States to be a leader in floating offshore wind technologies, as part of the federal government’s plan for a clean energy economy built by American workers.
Today’s announcements are part of the Department’s inaugural Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit, which supports the interagency Floating Offshore Wind Shot that was unveiled last September. The Floating Offshore Wind Shot is part of DOE’s Energy Earthshots (TM) initiative, which aims to tackle key technical challenges associated with reaching America’s climate goals by harnessing untapped renewable energy potential to mitigate climate change and advance the equitable transition to clean energy for our nation.
The White House Fact Sheet on today’s developments is reprinted in part below:
First-ever Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale proposed; California and Louisiana welcomed to Federal-State Partnership to build America’s supply chain and increase skilled workforce for offshore wind
Today’s actions—alongside investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—will spur offshore wind deployment beyond the East Coast, boost American leadership on floating offshore wind technologies, and create good-paying jobs for workers throughout the nation, by:
- Advancing Offshore Wind in the Gulf of Mexico: For the first time, the Department of the Interior (DOI) is announcing a proposed offshore wind lease sale for three areas in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Texas and Louisiana. These areas have the potential to generate enough clean energy to power almost 1.3 million homes. The proposed auction includes provisions that would incentivize new investments in workforce training and a domestic supply chain, to expand economic opportunities across offshore wind manufacturing, port operations, and more. DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to analyze the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to find areas that have the least conflict with other uses and the lowest environmental impact.
- Expanding the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership: Last year, President Biden joined East Coast governors to launch the Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, with eleven states working alongside the Administration to maximize the benefits of Atlantic offshore wind development for workers and communities. Now, following DOI’s recent California offshore wind auction and ahead of the proposed Gulf of Mexico offshore wind auction, both California and Louisiana are joining the Partnership to collaborate with federal agencies and other states on priorities including building an American supply chain and skilled workforce for offshore wind. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards have been leaders on seizing clean energy opportunities that create good-paying jobs, lower costs for families, and reduce climate pollution.
- Accelerating Progress on Floating Offshore Wind: Today, the Departments of Energy, the Interior, Commerce, and Transportation are kicking off a two-day Floating Offshore Wind Shot Summit, convening a broad range of leaders across sectors to advance the Administration’s goal of reducing the costs of floating offshore wind energy by over 70% by 2035. Floating technologies are key to harnessing about two-thirds of U.S. offshore wind energy potential, including along the West Coast, Gulf of Maine, and other deep-water areas. The Summit is bringing together Administration leaders, Governors, Members of Congress, industry and labor leaders, and a wide array of stakeholders working to advance innovation priorities, infrastructure buildout, community engagement, and other key aspects of floating offshore wind deployment. As part of this Summit, the Department of Energy is announcing new efforts on transmission planning and research partnerships to support floating offshore wind on the West Coast.
While advancing the first large-scale projects, and new manufacturing and port activity along the East Coast, the federal government has also supported development of the entire supply chain that stretches across other regions, from steel production in Alabama, Kentucky, and West Virginia to shipbuilding in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and beyond.
The White House, federal agencies, states, and other key stakeholders are coordinating to achieve the federal government’s goals, while advancing environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, supporting the creation of good-paying jobs, and promoting ocean co-use. In addition to executive actions, the Administration is also working to swiftly implement provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will further accelerate offshore wind, including clean energy tax credits to support manufacturing and deployment, as well as investments in transmission and port infrastructure.
Building on Recent Administration Actions
Just in the first few weeks of 2023, the federal government has already taken several new steps to continue historic progress on offshore wind development, with key highlights including:
- Permitting and Leasing Progress: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the availability of its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed SouthCoast Wind project offshore Massachusetts—the seventh offshore wind project draft EIS that this Administration has issued. BOEM also issued a proposed rule to streamline regulations for offshore wind and other clean energy development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf and advanced the State of Maine’s application for a research lease that could help inform the deployment of floating offshore wind technology nationwide.
- Supply Chain Buildout: The Department of Energy (DOE) and National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium announced the release of the U.S. Offshore Wind Supply Chain Roadmap, a detailed National Renewable Energy Laboratory report developed with key industry and state government partners, describing how the United States can develop a robust and equitable domestic supply chain that delivers jobs and economic benefits while meeting the national offshore wind target of 30 GW by 2030. Through the Administration’s Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership, states and federal agencies are collaborating to fill key gaps identified by the Roadmap and boost capabilities across manufacturing facilities, ports, workforce training programs, and more.
- Port Infrastructure Development: The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration announced more than $660 million available through the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) for Fiscal Year 2023, to fund port-related infrastructure projects that can include support for a range of clean energy opportunities. For example, last year the Administration awarded PIDP grants that included nearly $100 million for port projects that will advance offshore wind deployment.
- Innovation Support: DOE announced a $30 million funding opportunity to advance innovative manufacturing processes (such as 3-D printing) and improved performance of composite materials to allow large wind turbines to produce power more efficiently. To support clean energy breakthroughs including through the Floating Offshore Wind Shot, DOE also announced $200 million for Energy Earthshot Research Centers to bring together multi-disciplinary teams to tackle key technological challenges.