Two months after the record-setting $4.37 billion New York Bight wind lease sale, the Department of Interior Wednesday announced its next ambitions: Looking at six “call areas” off the central Mid-Atlantic coast, and two off Oregon for potential future leasing.
The central Atlantic call areas cover 3.9 million acres from Delaware to North Carolina, starting 20 miles offshore. The Oregon call areas, dubbed Coos Bay and Brookings, total 1.15 million acres with 12 miles of shore at the closest point.
The New York Bight sale “demonstrates incredible demand and enthusiasm for offshore wind,” said Amanda Lefton, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, at the Business Network for Offshore Wind’s International Partnering Forum in Atlantic City, N.J.
Publishing the call area notices in Friday’s issue of the Federal Register will start the clock running on 60-day public comment periods to June 28, said Lefton.
While BOEM forges ahead on call areas to elicit wind developers’ interest –and gauge the potential for conflicts with other ocean users or resources – earlier plans are proceeding for a half-dozen more lease sales, including the Carolina Long Bay area in May and California in the fall, said Lefton.
BOEM needs to show a consistent path for lease planning “to inspire confidence and demonstrate commitment,” said Lefton. “It is my number-one priority.”
Speaking after Lefton, Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the agencies are working together to shorten the time needed for permitting projects.
“I’m serious about this permitting challenge,” Granholm assured the audience during the forum’s plenary speakers session. “We can do this in concert with the environment and the ecosystem.”
There is another potential pitfall for the central Atlantic area, dating from a presidential order dating from the Trump administration, the National Ocean Industries Association said following the Interior announcement.
BOEM’s latest plan “underscores the need for an immediate legislative fix that rescinds the upcoming prohibition on new offshore wind lease sales. Starting July 1, there will be a 10-year moratorium on offshore wind leasing in the area stretching from North Carolina down through the eastern Gulf of Mexico,” NOIA president Eri Milito said.
“Overturning the moratorium has been non-controversial,” and the enabling language is already in Congressional legislation,” said Milito. “Congressional leaders should continue their bipartisan work in passing legislation that overturns the moratorium and allows for additional future lease sales."