Federal officials Wednesday auctioned two lease areas off the North Carolina and South Carolina coast, the second major offshore wind lease sale this year.
The Department of the Interior announced results late Wednesday. The provisional winner for renewable energy lease No. OCS-A 0545, the westernmost, 54,937-acre section of the Carolina Long Bay area was TotalEnergies Renewables USA, LLC, which bid $160 million. Duke Energy Renewables Wind, LLC was the provisional winner for lease No. OCS-A 0546, a 55,154-acre area, with a $155 million bid.
The winning bids each dwarfed that for the Kitty Hawk offshore wind lease auction five years ago.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says OCS-A 0545 and OCS-A 0546 together, if developed, could generate 1.3 gigawatts or more, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.
Officials called the auction a significant milestone towards achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030.
“The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in the announcement. “Together with an all-of-government approach, we can combat the effects of climate change while creating good-paying union jobs that can benefit underserved communities. Today’s lease sale is further proof that there is strong industry interest and that America’s clean energy transition is here.”
The Carolina Long Bay offshore wind auction included a new 20% credit for bidders, which commits to a monetary contribution to programs or initiatives that support workforce training programs for the offshore wind industry, development of a U.S. domestic supply chain for the offshore wind energy industry, or both. The credit will result in $42 million for the programs or initiatives, officials said.
“This auction puts real dollars on the table to support economic growth from offshore wind energy development – including the jobs that come with it,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “The new bidding credit in the Carolina Long Bay auction will result in tangible investments for workforce training and businesses in the United States, to ultimately create jobs in the U.S. across the industries needed to support achieving our offshore wind goals.”
Periodic updates on the auction, which began at 9 a.m. and wrapped up about 5 p.m., were posted at the BOEM website.
Bidders could vie for one or both of the lease areas within the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area. The two lease areas include similar acreage, distance to shore and wind resource potential.
The Carolina Long Bay wind energy area’s closest distance to shore is about 15 nautical miles
Federal officials have said the location and shape of the lease areas were drawn based on considerations such as vessel traffic patterns, North Atlantic right whale habitat, Defense Department considerations and visual concerns expressed in coastal communities.
The Interior Department said that to advance its environmental justice goals, leaseholders are also required to identify Tribal nations, underserved communities, agencies, ocean users and other stakeholders and to report on those communications and engagement activities. “These stipulations are intended to promote offshore wind energy development in a way that coexists with other ocean uses, addresses potential impacts and benefits, and protects the ocean environment, while also facilitating our nation’s energy future for generations to come,” according to the announcement.
Before the leases are finalized, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission must conduct an anti-competitiveness review of the auction, and the provisional winners will be required to pay any balance on the winning bids and provide financial assurance to BOEM.