The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has planned its first online wind energy auction May 11 for two lease areas in the Carolina Long Bay area, located offshore of the North Carolina and South Carolina border.
BOEM is holding a mock auction for potential bidders at 9 a.m. May 6. The monetary auction will be online at 9 a.m. May 11. The list of qualified bidders for the auction and auction procedures are on BOEM’s Carolina Long Bay website.
In addition to the auction announcement, the Department of the Interior announced Friday that BOEM had completed the environmental review, which states that issuing the commercial wind energy leases would not cause any significant impacts.
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction provides yet another excellent opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. “This is an historic time for domestic offshore wind energy development. We will continue using every tool in our toolbox to tackle the climate crisis, reduce our emissions to reach the President’s bold goals, and advance environmental justice.”
The May 11 auction is to allow offshore wind developers to bid on one or both of the lease areas, the Wilmington West and East wind energy areas, or WEAs, which are part of a larger Carolina Long Bay area. The two lease areas totaling about 110,091 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area have similar acreage, distances to shore and wind resource potential.
Any lease from the sale does not mean that the project-specific plans are approved. Plans submitted by the lessee will need to go through environmental, technical and public reviews before the proposed development would be authorized, according to the final sale notice to be published Monday in the Federal Register.
BOEM officials said that if developed, at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes, could result.
“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 a statement Friday. “The milestones announced today mark significant progress in achieving this Administration’s goal for deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, while creating jobs and strengthening a sustainable domestic supply chain.”
Southeastern Wind Coalition President Katharine Kollins said in a statement that the organization applauds BOEM’s decision to divide the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area into two leases.
“Having two lease areas means more economic benefit for the state through additional competition, development flexibility, and multiple players in the space,” she said. “Additional lease provisions will drive incentive for localized supply chain and workforce development, allowing North Carolina the ability to take advantage of the $100B at our doorstep.”
President Joe Biden announced the first national offshore wind energy goal in March 2021. In fall 2021, the Biden administration announced a new leasing path forward identifying 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.
Oceana campaign director Diane Hoskins said in a statement that Friday’s announcement is an important step forward for job creation and securing a clean energy future.
“Oceana applauds President Biden for working to make offshore wind a reality in the United States,” she said.
Offshore wind is a critical piece of the puzzle when confronting the climate crisis and replacing the fossil fuels driving climate change. Friday’s lease sale announcement will help the country meet clean energy goals that will lead to energy independence.
“Advancing clean, domestic offshore wind energy can create jobs, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and help fight climate change,” she said.
National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said in a statement Friday that the Carolina Long Bay announcement “is fantastic news for the Carolinas and for the nation. We are going to go from one project in the area to three, which will strengthen the supply chain and attract additional investment and jobs.”
Milito explained that the window is narrow window between holding the lease sale and the prohibition that will prevent additional lease sales beyond this one.
“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,” he said, adding that National Ocean Industries Association strongly advocating for legislation revoking the ban. “Overturning the moratorium has been non-controversial. Language is already included in the America Competes Act and was previously included in the Build Back Better Act. Congressional leaders should continue their bipartisan work in passing legislation that overturns the moratorium and allows for additional future lease sales.”