First Ever Gulf of Mexico Offshore Wind Lease Sale Announced

iStock photo. Credit: MR1805

The Department of the Interior will hold the first-ever offshore wind energy lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, advancing the Biden-Harris administration’s work to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and reach a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035.

The areas to be auctioned on August 29, 2023, by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management have the potential to generate approximately 3.7 GW and power almost 1.3 million homes with clean, renewable energy.

“The announcement marks another historic step in the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to create a clean energy future. By catalyzing the offshore wind energy potential of the Gulf of Mexico, we can tackle the climate crisis, lower energy costs for families and create good-paying jobs,” said Secretary Deb Haaland.

“The Gulf of Mexico is poised to play a key role in our nation’s transition to a clean energy future,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “Today’s announcement follows years of engagement with government agencies, states, ocean users, and stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico region. We look forward to continued collaboration in the years to come.”

The lease sale announced on July 20, follows the Biden-Harris administration’s third approval earlier this month of a commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project in the United States and is part of the leasing path announced by Secretary Haaland in 2021.

The Final Sale Notice (FSN), which will publish in the Federal Register on July 21, 2023, includes a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other 96,786 acres. The FSN provides detailed information about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, and auction details. It also identifies qualified companies who can participate in the lease auction. Details on the FSN, along with a map of the area can be found on BOEM’s website.

Earlier this year, the Department announced the Proposed Sale Notice for offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico. During the 60-day comment period, BOEM received comments on several lease stipulations that supported BOEM’s commitment to engage with underserved communities, ocean users and other stakeholders. Some of these stipulations, which are part of the FSN, include:

  • Bidding credits to bidders who commit to supporting workforce training programs, developing a domestic supply chain for the offshore wind energy industry,
  • Bidding credits for establishing and contributing to a fisheries compensatory mitigation fund or contributing to an existing fund to mitigate potential negative impacts to commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries caused by offshore wind energy development in the Gulf of Mexico, and
  • Requiring that lessees provide a regular progress report summarizing engagement with Tribes and ocean users potentially affected by proposed offshore wind energy activities.

In the past two years, the Biden-Harris administration has made progress towards catalyzing a new clean energy industry, by investing in workers and communities, while protecting biodiversity and ocean co-use. BOEM expects to review at least 16 Construction and Operations Plans of commercial, offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 27 GW of clean energy for the nation.

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