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US unleashes ambitious plan for offshore wind sale in Central Atlantic

The US Department of the Interior (DoI) announced the proposal of an offshore wind lease sale in the Central Atlantic. The proposed lease sale includes one area offshore the States of Delaware and Maryland, and one area offshore the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Lease Area A-2 consists of 101,443 acres and is approximately 26.4 nautical miles (nm) from Delaware Bay. Lease Area C-1 consists of 176,505 acres and is approximately 35 nm from the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. BOEM is seeking public comments on which, if any, of the two lease areas should be offered in a lease sale next year.

According to the DoI statement, these areas have the potential to power over 2.2 million homes with clean energy. BOEM partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to develop a comprehensive, ecosystem-based ocean planning model that assisted in the selection of the final WEAs.

“Since the start of our administration, the Department of the Interior has approved the nation's first six commercial-scale offshore wind energy projects. Today’s announcement is another step forward in the Biden-Harris administration’s pursuit of a clean energy future,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “We are taking action to jumpstart America’s offshore wind industry and using American innovation to deliver reliable, affordable power to homes and businesses, while also addressing the climate crisis."  

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will continue to work closely with our government partners and key stakeholders as we move forward with the leasing process in the Central Atlantic,”?said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “We are excited to announce this proposed sale and underscore our commitment to explore additional areas in the Central Atlantic for potential offshore wind development.”  

In July 2023, BOEM announced three Central Atlantic Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), while indicating that WEA B-1 still needed more study. The new proposed sale notice does not include WEA B-1, which is located approximately 23.5 nm offshore Ocean City, MD. BOEM has removed that WEA from this proposed lease sale due to the significant costs and mitigation that would be required. However, WEA B-1 may be considered as part of a potential second lease sale in the Central Atlantic, which could occur as soon as 2025.  

The Proposed Sale Notice initiates a 60-day public comment period and contains information about the areas available for leasing, certain lease provisions and conditions, auction details, criteria for evaluating competing bids and procedures for lease award, appeals and lease execution.

Good news for the industry


Following the DoI announcement, the American Clean Power Association (ACP) explained that "Developing these Central Atlantic leases will be crucial to helping the mid-Atlantic states meet their emissions reduction targets. We look forward to working with federal, state, and other stakeholders as additional lease sales are considered in a second round". 

The ACP noted that while these milestones are cause for celebration, ensuring a stable trade framework through successful state requests for offshore wind energy, inflation adjustments, and a viable guide for tax credit is crucial to building a viable and abundant clean energy future.


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