On February 22, 2023, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the first proposed offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico.
“The announcement is part of the Administration’s latest actions to expand offshore wind opportunities to more regions of the country, building on investments in the President’s Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to spur offshore wind deployment and create good-paying jobs for American workers,” a DOI press release says.
“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,” Secretary Deb Haaland says in the release. “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 Notice (PSN), posted on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) website, includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, 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,” the press release continues. 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; and
- Requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind activities.
This leasing opportunity is part of the current administration’s strategy 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.
To date, the DOI has held three offshore wind lease auctions, including a record-breaking sale offshore New York and the first-ever sale off the Pacific coast in California. The agency has also initiated environmental review of 10 offshore wind projects and advanced the process to explore additional wind energy areas in Oregon, the Gulf of Maine, and the Central Atlantic.
Upon publication of the Federal Register notice, written comments on the PSN will be accepted for 60 days through www.regulations.gov under Docket #BOEM–2023–0021.