The Bureau of Offshore Energy Management extended its drive to develop offshore wind energy with its announcement of the first-ever Gulf of Mexico lease sale.
More than 300,000 acres off Lake Charles, La., and Galveston, Texas, are to be offered for bids by wind developers. The potential lease areas previously delineated by BOEM include some carve-outs suggested by the shrimp industry, setting aside areas that are heavily fished to reduce user conflicts.
“BOEM is committed to ensuring any offshore wind activities are done in a manner that avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and ocean users,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “Today’s announcement comes after years of engagement with Tribes, other government agencies, ocean users and stakeholders, and this proposed sale notice provides another opportunity for them to weigh in on potential offshore wind leasing in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) announced today includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas offshore Galveston should be offered in the Final Sale Notice. If fully developed the lease areas would have potential to power almost 1.3 million homes, according to BOEM.
During a 60-day public comment period, BOEM is also seeking feedback on several lease stipulations that would reaffirm its commitment to create good-paying jobs and engage with ocean users and other stakeholders. Some potential stipulations include:
- Bidding credits to bidders that 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.
- Establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind development in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with Tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind activities.
The PSN will publish in the Federal Register later this month and initiates a 60-day public comment period. If the Interior Department 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.