‘True Energy Hub’: BOEM Floats First Offshore Wind Sale in Gulf of Mexico
The proposed sale notice consists of more than 300,000 acres in three designated areas offshore Louisiana and Texas.
The US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is poised to become what some see as the first “true energy hub” with the Biden administration’s announcement of the first US offshore wind energy sale in its shallow waters along the Louisiana and Texas coasts, an area long dominated by oil and gas production.
The US Department of the Interior said on 22 February that more than 300,000 acres of offshore waters will be opened for offshore wind development. The proposed sale notice includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one consisting of 102,480 acres and the other consisting of 96,786 acres. These areas have the potential to power almost 1.3 million homes with clean energy.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said it is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the final sale notice.
“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,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “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 Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030.
BOEM said that it is seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders.
Stipulations include that bidders 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.
Another stipulation is the establishment of and contribution to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative effects to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico.
The 60-day public comment period will begin after the posting of the potential sale notice in the Federal Register later this month. The Interior Department said that, if it 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.
Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, said in a release that the sale announcement by BOEM was an important step in the build-out of the US offshore wind sector.
“Decades of innovation and experience have enabled the Gulf of Mexico to become a premier offshore energy region, including being a leader in low-carbon oil and gas production. Through offshore wind, along with regular and predictable offshore oil and gas leasing, the US Gulf of Mexico can expand its remarkable and irreplaceable energy portfolio. The energy, jobs, and investment opportunities from Gulf of Mexico offshore wind will be additive to the incredible benefits the offshore oil and gas sector provides our nation,” Milito said.
"The Gulf of Mexico is a true energy hub, and there is already an amazing synergy between offshore oil and gas and offshore wind. NOIA member companies have been instrumental in the development and construction of offshore oil and gas projects and offshore wind projects. Now, many Gulf Coast companies will have a chance to build new wind projects closer to home. The American offshore energy sector benefits Americans of all walks of life, and this relationship will strengthen with new offshore wind opportunities. We are excited for the offshore wind opportunity in the Gulf of Mexico."