Biden administration, California identify areas with potential for 4.6 GW of wind power

May 26, 2021

by Peter Maloney
May 26, 2021

The Biden administration, in conjunction with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, on Tuesday announced an agreement identifying regions off the California coast that could support of the administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

The Department of the Interior with the Department of Defense and the state of California identified the Morro Bay 399 Area, which they said could support 3 GW of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area off the state’s northern coast as a potential Wind Energy Area. Together, the two areas could support as much as 4.6 GW of wind energy, according to government estimates.

“The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change,” Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior, said in a statement.

In late March, the departments of Interior, Energy, and Commerce, a White House forum, announced the administration’s goal of having 30 GW of wind energy in place by 2030.

At the same meeting, the administration announced the final Wind Energy Areas in waters off the New York and New Jersey coasts known as the New York Bight.

The Biden administration estimates the 30-GW target will trigger more than $12 billion per year in capital investment and create jobs for more than 44,000 in offshore wind by 2030 and nearly 33,000 additional jobs in communities supported by offshore wind activity.

At the same time, the Department of Energy (DOE) made available details of its $3 billion in capital to support offshore wind project through its Loan Programs office. And, in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the DOE announced the award of $8 million to 15 offshore wind research and development projects.

The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to hold an Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on June 24 to discuss the identified areas off the north and central California coasts as potential Wind Energy Areas (WEA).

Following the task force meeting, the WEAs can be finalized and will undergo environmental analysis, and the BOEM will undertake government-to-government tribal consultation. The processes for the northern and central coasts will then be merged in a Proposed Sale Notice for one lease sale auction, targeted for mid-2022.

On the East Coast, the BOEM plans to publish a Proposed Sale Notice followed by a formal public comment period and a lease sale in late 2021 or early 2022.

In selecting the Wind Energy Areas on the West Coast, the Department of the Interior collaborated with the Department of Defense to find offshore areas compatible with the Department of Defense’s ongoing military testing, training and operations.

In March, the Department of the Interior also began the environmental review of Ocean Wind LLC’s 1,100-megawatt wind project off New Jersey coast, marking the third review it has begun.

Interior has already begun environmental reviews for the Vineyard Wind offshore project in Massachusetts and South Fork offshore wind project in Rhode Island. The department expects to begin environmental reviews for up to 10 more projects later this year.