When is auction not an auction?

When no auction bids came through at the Aug. 29 deadline to buy the rights to develop two wind farm sites off the Texas coast, it was startling that no bids arrived. One bid was received for a Gulf site off the Louisiana coast.

This development was particularly startling to Texas seaports which were expecting to gear up as supply points for massive offshore construction efforts.

After this developed Aug. 29, the Baltimore-based Business Network for Offshore Wind, released this announcement: “Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) conducted the first offshore wind lease auction in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in a $5.6 million bid for the Lease Area off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana from RWE Offshore U.S. Gulf, LLC.”

Liz Burdock, the president and CEO of The Business Network shared the following statement on Sept. 1.

“When we created the Network a decade ago, we knew establishing the U.S. offshore wind market would be a roller coaster-like experience.

And this week has been quite the ride.

“While this week’s results of the Gulf of Mexico auction were not what so many of us had hoped to see, it still marked a step forward in the long journey that is converting that region — and the country as a whole — to clean energy.

“In fact, history is repeating itself. In 2015 –– less than a decade ago –– BOEM held an auction off the coast of Massachusetts where only two of the four areas received bids. Three years later, those passed-over areas went for a combined $405 million, making those of us who were early to the OSW (offshore wind) industry wish we had pooled our couch change and purchased one. Oh, the resale value.

“There’s no question in my mind that the Gulf will play an integral role in offshore wind, just as it already has through the growing pool of well-established firms who have shared their expertise in offshore development, manufacturing, and much more. In fact, Network analysis of more than 1,600+ contracts in the U.S. market shows that 23% are already going to Gulf firms.

The Gulf has been the center of American energy innovation for decades and that isn’t going to change.

“We’ve seen that commitment first-hand from our Network members. And while it is disappointing that our Texas members will have to wait a little while longer for offshore wind in their own backyard, it will eventually happen. (Making us wish once more that we had pooled couch change.)

“As for the roller coaster ride that is the U.S. offshore wind market, the week ended on a high with California moving a Centralized Procurement for offshore wind and other diverse clean energy resources forward. This is big news. This end-of-session effort between legislative leaders and the governor will speed the state’s transition to a clean energy economy and reinforce the important role public policy plays in the new energy future.

“Those of us who have worked in offshore wind for a decade or more know that this week wasn’t the first tough one on our roller coaster ride to building this industry to its full potential — nor will it likely be the last. Supply chain capacity issues, soaring interest rates, and inflation are all factors that continue to challenge the individuals and companies working hard every day to move our country toward a cleaner and more affordable energy future. But what fun would a roller coaster ride be without the drops that take you to the next, thrilling high point?

“My advice? Buckle up and keep your eyes on the horizon because before you know it, we’ll have dozens of projects in the water, manufacturing facilities humming with workers, and a thriving supply chain.”