The Biden Administration announced this morning that it’s ready to proceed with putting two swaths of the ocean off Humboldt County up for lease to potential offshore wind developers.
Leases for the two areas, which together total more than 206 square miles, will be sold at auction on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Three areas near Morro Bay will go out for auction on the same date. These will be the first offshore wind leases on the Pacific Coast, and the first in the nation to support what the Department of Interior is calling “commercial-scale” offshore energy.
In all, 43 separate entities have qualified as potential bidders for the five lease areas. They include well-known energy giants like Shell, all the way down to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, an intergovernmental agency representing Humboldt County and its municipalities.
Offshore wind is one of the many large-scale economic projects in Humboldt County at the moment, and potentially one of the most transformative. Boosters believe that the Port of Humboldt Bay could someday serve as the West Coast hub of a nascent offshore power industry. As for the local project, though, the Schatz Energy Lab has raised questions about the number of infrastructure upgrades that will be needed to connect the windmills off Humboldt County into the national grid.
In a press release, Rep. Jared Huffman celebrated the announcement of the upcoming auction.
“I’ve always advocated for a swift transition to clean energy to meet our climate goals, and offshore wind meets the mark – not only with clean, green energy production, but also boosting our local economies and creating jobs,” he wrote. “I’ve worked with community leaders and stakeholders to identify an agreement that would directly benefit the constituents of California’s 2nd Congressional District, and this final sale notice thankfully includes many of our goals. I’ll continue to work with the administration to make sure our constituents are getting a deal that’s good for them and the planet,”
Press release from the Department of the Interior:
In a new development in the pursuit of a clean energy future, the Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on Dec. 6, 2022, for areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off central and northern California.
This will be the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on America’s west coast and the first-ever U.S. sale to support potential commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development. This sale will be critical to achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s deployment goals of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.
“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable. I am proud of the teams at the Interior Department that are moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy, including floating offshore wind energy, a reality for the United States,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today, we are taking another step toward unlocking the immense offshore wind energy potential off our nation’s west coast to help combat the effects of climate change while lowering costs for American families and creating good-paying union jobs.”
In May 2021, Secretary Haaland and California Governor Gavin Newsom joined Biden-Harris administration leaders to announce an agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California. The California sale reflects the leasing path announced last year by Secretary Haaland and last month’s announcement of a new deployment goal of 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.
BOEM will offer five California OCS lease areas that total approximately 373,268 acres with the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy, power more than 1.5 million homes, and support thousands of new jobs.
“Today’s announcement represents years of close coordination and engagement with the state of California, Tribes, ocean users, local communities and all interested parties to move us closer towards achieving the administration’s vision to fight climate change and realizing California’s clean energy future, while creating a domestic supply chain and good-paying union jobs,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton, who will deliver remarks this morning at the Offshore WINDPOWER 2022 Conference. “BOEM remains committed to ensuring transparency and active engagement with stakeholders throughout the post-leasing process.”
To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and issued 27 active commercial wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
The California Final Sale Notice (FSN), which will publish in the Federal Register later this week, provides detailed information about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, and auction details. It also identifies qualified companies who can participate in the lease auction.
The FSN includes three lease areas off central California and two lease areas off northern California. It also includes several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and create good paying union jobs. Among the stipulations announced today, BOEM will offer bidding credits for bidders who enter into community benefit agreements or invest in workforce training or supply chain development; require winning bidders to make efforts to enter into project labor agreements; and require engagement with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users, and agencies.
On May 26, 2022, the Department announced the Proposed Sale Notice for offshore wind energy development located offshore central and northern California. During the 60-day comment period, BOEM received valuable feedback on several lease stipulations that reaffirmed BOEM’s commitment to create good-paying union jobs and to engage with Tribal governments, underserved communities, ocean users and other stakeholders.
More information about the FSN and lease stipulations, a map of the area, the list of qualified bidders for the auction, and auction procedures is available on BOEM’s California website.