Biden Administration announces winners of California offshore wind energy auction

$757 Million in Bids

The first offshore wind lease sale in the Pacific results in over $757 million in winning bids for five lease areas, which have the potential to power over 1.5 million homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

California Offshore Wind Energy Auction Winners

Provisional WinnerLease AreaAcresHigh Bid
RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLCOCS-P056163.338$157,700,000
California North Floating, LLCOCS-P056269.031$173,800,000
Equinor Wind US. LLCOCS-P056380.062$130,000,000
Central California Offshore Wind, LLCOCS-P056480,418$150,300,000
Invenergy California Offshore LLCOCS-P056580.418$145,300,000

Source: U.S. Department of Interior

The Department of the Interior announced on December 7th, results from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s wind energy auction for five leases offshore California.

The lease sale represents the third major offshore wind lease sale this year and the first ever for the Pacific region. Today’s sale drew competitive high bids from 5 companies totaling $757.1 million, well exceeding the first lease sales that were held in the Atlantic.

“The Biden-Harris administration believes that to address the climate crisis head on, we must unleash a new era of clean, reliable energy that serves every household in America. Today’s lease sale is further proof that industry momentum – including for floating offshore wind development – is undeniable,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “A sustainable, clean energy future is within our grasp and the Interior Department is doing everything we can to ensure that American communities nationwide benefit.”

The interest and success of today’s sale represents a significant milestone toward achieving President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035.

“The innovative bidding credits in the California auction will result in tangible investments for the floating offshore wind workforce and supply chain in the United States, and benefits to Tribes, communities, and ocean users potentially affected by future offshore wind activities. This auction commits substantial investment to support economic growth from floating offshore wind energy development – including the jobs that come with it,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “These credits and additional lease stipulations demonstrate BOEM’s commitment to responsibly grow the offshore wind industry to achieve our offshore wind goals.”

The action was hailed by Offshore Wind California which said in a statement: “California is the big winner in this first lease sale for the state’s multi-gigawatt (GW) floating offshore wind resource. Today’s final auction results are great news for California’s offshore wind industry, workers, and electricity ratepayers. This is the most consequential milestone yet for the Golden State’s efforts to make offshore wind a key part of its diverse clean energy future and meet its ambitious planning goals to generate up to 5 GW by 2030 and a nation-leading 25 GW by 2045.

BOEM’s auction process has identified five provisional winners who are prepared to responsibly develop five California lease areas and make the big investments necessary to realize offshore wind’s very substantial climate, clean energy, and jobs benefits.

California, and the U.S. as a whole, have a remarkable opportunity to establish global leadership by going big on floating offshore wind. BOEM’s initial lease auction for the Morro Bay and Humboldt Wind Energy Areas is an important step to making that a reality.”

BOEM’s lease sale offered five lease areas covering 373,268 total acres off central and northern California. The leased areas have the potential to produce over 4.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power over 1.5 million homes.

The lease sale included a 20% credit for bidders who committed to a monetary contribution to programs or initiatives that support workforce training programs for the floating offshore wind industry, the development of a U.S. domestic supply chain for the floating offshore wind energy industry, or both. This credit will result in over $117 million in investments for these critical programs or initiatives.

The auction also included 5% credits for bidders who committed to entering community benefit agreements (CBAs). The first type of agreement is a Lease Area Use CBA with communities, stakeholder groups, or Tribal entities whose use of the lease areas or use of the resources harvested from the lease areas is expected to be impacted by offshore wind development. The second type of agreement is a General CBA with communities, Tribes, or stakeholder groups that are expected to be affected by the potential impacts on the marine, coastal or human environment from lease development.

More information about today’s sale, including a map of the lease areas and requirements regarding the bidding credits, can be found on BOEM’s website.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


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