December 7, 2022
On December 7, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced results from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM’s) wind energy auction for five leases that will go to offshore wind sites in California. This is the first ever lease sale for the Pacific region, and the first for floating offshore wind farms of this scale in America.
“This is the milestone communities and offshore wind advocates have been waiting for. We must act on the scale and speed that science demands to address the escalating climate emergency, protect public health, and begin to end systemic environmental racism. The responsible build out of offshore wind will move us steadily on this path,” said Christian Brock, EOPA CEO, veteran. “Offshore wind is key to achieving energy independence with a clean energy economy. Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California is thrilled by today’s news.”
The successful sale significantly moves President Biden’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035 forward.
BOEM’s lease sale offered five lease areas covering 373,268 total acres off central and northern California. The combined lease areas of Morro Bay and Humboldt County will generate 4.6 gigawatts and power approximately 1.5 million homes. California’s overall offshore wind goal is 25 gigawatts of floating offshore wind capacity by 2045, set by the California Energy Commission.
Today’s sale drew highly competitive bids from 5 companies totaling $757.1 million, far exceeding the first lease sales that were held in the Atlantic.
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California stands behind the responsible development of offshore wind to meet the state’s clean energy goals on the path towards a 100 percent clean energy economy.
“BOEM’s environmental review was critical to ensure the development of offshore wind would be responsible and equitable. Offshore wind has the potential to be the biggest lever that we can pull to reduce our emissions, address the climate crisis, meet our energy needs, and grow our economy simultaneously. It’s poised to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040, creating thousands of good-paying union jobs, providing clean renewable energy, and spurring economic growth,” saidDominic Frongillo, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) “Over 125 Californian elected officials signed our EOPA California letter that fully supports the responsible buildout of offshore wind. We see offshore wind as a key component to solving the climate crisis. We’re very encouraged by BOEM’s lease sale to develop offshore wind responsibly. It’s a great day on our path to a 100 percent clean energy economy.”
According to a report by the American Jobs Project, a cluster-based strategy to build an offshore wind farm that would generate 18 gigawatts would create over17,500 well-paying jobs by 2045, while offering career pathways for displaced workers from the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. Additionally and importantly, this responsible buildout will revitalize port communities and cities with a ripple effect of economic growth.
“We’re excited in San Luis Obispo to see Morro Bay have a great BOEM auction on the road to develop clean, renewable offshore wind energy. This untapped resource is a game changer in the battle to free our planet from deadly fossil fuels that continue to fuel greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere,” said Heidi Harmon, former Mayor of San Luis Obispo, EOPA California Chapter Leadership Council. “California is ground zero for the climate crisis with fires, unforgiving drought and heat waves. Offshore wind will help mitigate these disasters while bringing good paying union jobs to the area.”
According to BOEM, the lease sale included a 20-percent credit for bidders who committed to a monetary contribution to programs or initiatives that support workforce training programs for the floating offshore wind industry, the development of a U.S. domestic supply chain for the floating offshore wind energy industry, or both. This credit will result in over $117 million in investments for these critical programs or initiatives.
“We are still a food desert but recent grant opportunities have put us in a better place. We have 50 homes without electricity and sustainable water systems. Our hope is that a responsible offshore wind buildout can help fix these problems,” said Phillip Williams,Councilmember, Yurok Tribe northern California, veteran, EOPA CA Leadership Council. “We welcome the workforce training programs for offshore wind jobs for our people.”
According to BOEM, the auction included 5 percent credits for bidders who committed to entering community benefit agreements (CBAs). The first type of agreement is a Lease Area Use CBA with communities, stakeholder groups, or Tribal entities whose use of the lease areas or use of the resources harvested from the lease areas is expected to be impacted by offshore wind development. The second type of agreement is a General CBA with communities, Tribes, or stakeholder groups that are expected to be affected by the potential impacts on the marine, coastal or human environment from lease development.
“The Biden-Harris administration believes that to address the climate crisis head on, we must unleash a new era of clean, reliable energy that serves every household in America. Today’s lease sale is further proof that industry momentum – including for floating offshore wind development – is undeniable,” said Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement. “A sustainable, clean energy future is within our grasp and the Interior Department is doing everything we can to ensure that American communities nationwide benefit.”
In collaboration with multiple federal departments, the Biden Harris Administration have announced theFloating Offshore Wind Shot – a targeted investment initiative to drive innovation in the domestic offshore, thereby giving investors, and communities confidence.
Elected Officials to Protect America is a network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership.
EOPA California is a statewide, non-partisan network of California elected officials committed to protecting our communities, public health, and climate for all we represent.