The eye-popping $4.37 billion offered by bidders for six wind energy leases in the New York Bight is the highest-grossing competitive offshore energy lease sale in history – including oil and gas sales, according to the U.S Department of Interior.

“This week’s offshore wind sale makes one thing clear: the enthusiasm for the clean energy economy is undeniable and it’s here to stay,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in announcing the result Friday. “The investments we are seeing today will play an important role in delivering on the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis and create thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation.”

Some 480,000 acres of ocean between New Jersey and Long Island were split into six lease areas by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in a process that pared down a 1.7-million acres wind energy area the agency designated for starters.

“Based on BOEM’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 offered for lease by 72 percent to avoid conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts,” according to the agency. “BOEM will continue to engage with the public, ocean users, and key stakeholders as the process unfolds.”

After 23 hours of frenetic bidding sessions that started at 9 a.m. Feb. 23, the auction closed after 64 rounds with winners standing at 2:08 p.m., according to a running online tally.

The successful bidders are a mix of companies and consortiums with roots in wind energy, oil and energy transmission, including Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight (EDF and Shell); Attentive Energy (EnBW and Total]; Bight Wind Holdings (RWE and National Grid); Invenergy Wind Offshore (a Chicago-based firm); Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind (Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners); and OW Ocean Winds East (EDP Renewables and ENGIE).

Bight Wind Holdings took the most-sought prize, a nearly 126,000-acre tract known as OCS A-0539 roughly 50 miles east-southeast of Barnegat Light, N.J., for $1.1 billion, beating up to five competitors in the process.

Neighboring tracts fetched over $750 million each, such as 71,522 acres called OCS-A 0537 that went for $765 million to Ocean Winds East, LLC. OW East is a partnership between Ocean Winds, an international offshore wind energy company created by EDP Renewables (EDPR) and ENGIE and New York-based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), an independent infrastructure fund manager.

BOEM officials say the New York Bight leases include new stipulations that aimed to promote developing U.S. supply chains for offshore wind construction, and demand wind developers engage with the commercial fishing industry, other ocean users, underserved communities and tribes.

“Stipulations include incentives to source major components domestically – such as blades, turbines and foundations – and to enter into project labor agreements to ensure projects are union-built,” according to BOEM.

“We must have a robust and resilient domestic offshore wind supply chain to deliver good-paying, union jobs and the economic benefits to residents in the region,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “Because we understand the value of meaningful community engagement, we are requiring lessees to report their engagement activities to BOEM, specifically noting how they’re incorporating any feedback into their future plans.”

“The New York Bight auction concluded today after days of intense bidding that reflect the great advancement of the U.S. offshore wind industry and the pent-up demand for new lease areas,” said Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, a non-profit industry group that promotes development of a domestic U.S. offshore wind industry.

“The New York Bight benefited from clear political support, an emerging, yet robust, local supply chain, and a years-long preparation window which should allow the winning bidders to quickly begin the permitting process and put steel in the water by the end of the decade.”

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Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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