Having completed its environmental review, the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold a wind energy auction for two lease areas offshore the Carolinas on May 11. The lease areas cover 110,091 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area that, if developed, could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy.
The auction will allow offshore wind developers to bid on one or both of the lease areas within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (WEA), as described in BOEM’s final sale notice (FSN). The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore, and wind resource potential.
The FSN includes several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic US supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and encourage project labour agreements. Among the stipulations, BOEM will offer a 20% credit to bidders if they commit to invest in programs that will advance US offshore wind energy workforce training or supply chain development.
To advance BOEM’s communication and environmental justice goals, the leases will also require lessees to identify Tribal Nations, underserved communities, agencies, ocean users and other interested stakeholders, and report on their communication and engagement activities with those parties.
“BOEM is focused on ensuring that any development offshore North Carolina is done responsibly, in a way that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton.
In November 2021, BOEM published a proposed sale notice (PSN) and requested public comments on the proposed leasing of nearly 128,000 acres in the Wilmington East WEA. Based on the bureau’s review of scientific data and extensive input from the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders and the public, BOEM reduced the acreage available for leasing in the FSN by 14% from the areas proposed in the PSN to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts.
In 2021, the Biden Administration identified up to seven potential lease sales by 2025, including the upcoming Carolina Long Bay lease sale and last month’s New York Bight lease sale. Lease sales offshore California and Oregon, as well as in the Central Atlantic, Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico are expected to follow.