US Offshore Wind Energy Lease Sale Set For Central Atlantic

The Department of the Interior declared an offshore wind energy lease sale would be held in the Central Atlantic on August 14, with the potential to generate up to 6.3 GW of energy.

The Final Sale Notice- FSN, set to appear in the Federal Register on July 1, detailed one area off Delaware and Maryland and another off Virginia. Lease Area A-2 comprised 101,443 acres, located about 26 nautical miles from Delaware Bay. Lease Area C-1 covered 176,505 acres, approximately 35 nautical miles from the Chesapeake Bay entrance. Seventeen companies were qualified to participate in the August sale.

Secretary Deb Haaland remarked that America’s coastal regions were showing growing enthusiasm for the Biden-Harris administration’s clean energy goals. She mentioned that the administration was propelling the offshore wind industry forward, harnessing American innovation to provide reliable and affordable energy while addressing the climate crisis. Haaland added that the administration’s collaborative efforts with states, Tribes, and stakeholders ensured smart and efficient use of offshore resources.

BOEM, in partnership with NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, developed an ecosystem-based ocean planning model to assist in selecting the final lease areas. The FSN included leasing details, specific provisions, auction criteria, bid evaluation methods, and lease procedures.

BOEM introduced several lease stipulations and bidding credits to emphasize job creation and stakeholder engagement. Key stipulations include:

  • A 12.5% bidding credit for bidders committing to workforce training programs or developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind industry.
  • A 12.5% bidding credit for bidders establishing or contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund to address potential impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries.
  • Requirements for lessees to make “every reasonable effort” to enter project labor agreements for construction, create communication plans with Tribes, agencies, and fisheries, and provide semi-annual reports on engagement activities.

BOEM announced it would maintain the Central Atlantic Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force for ongoing collaboration and exploration of future offshore wind leasing areas. This effort included a December 2023 commitment and a June 2024 Memorandum of Understanding for evaluating additional wind energy areas off Maryland’s shores.

Katharine Kollins, President of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, commented that the announcement represented a major step in the region’s offshore wind energy efforts. She noted that with the 2.6 GW Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project underway, Virginia was leading in offshore wind economic development. Kollins added that additional wind energy areas near Virginia would solidify its position as an East Coast offshore wind hub.

The Department stated that since the start of the Biden administration, it had approved eight commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters. BOEM had conducted four offshore wind lease sales in New York, New Jersey, and the Carolinas, plus the first-ever sales off the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts. The Department also announced plans for up to 12 more lease sales through 2028.