Offshore wind has captured headlines recently, and much of that news has taken place on the East Coast, from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Now, its travelling west, with a wind lease auction scheduled for California.
On Oct. 18., the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on December 6, 2022, for areas known as the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which are located off of California's northern and central coasts.
The lease is doubly unique. It is the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on America's West Coast, and it is the first to support floating wind power. (All other offshore wind turbines have been anchored in the bedrock beneath the sea floor.)
The Bureau will offer five California OCS lease areas that total approximately 373,268 acres with the potential to produce over 4.5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy. That is enough electricity to power more than 1.5 million homes.
The total lease auction will include three lease areas off of central California in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area and two lease areas off the northern coast in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area. The BOEM notes that it also includes various stipulations designed to strengthen the domestic supply chain, improve transmission planning and create good-paying jobs.
The stipulations include several provisions designed to contribute to the local community and workforce development. For example, the BOEM will offer credits for those bidders who enter into community benefit agreements or invest in workforce training or supply chain development. Other provisions require winning bidders to make efforts to enter into project labor agreements and to engage with Tribes, underserved communities, ocean users and relevant agencies.
The lease auction is part of the Biden Administration’s larger goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 GW of floating energy by 2035.