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Administration announces record offshore wind sale

The sale will cover an area off the coasts of New York and New Jersey

Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, pictured here last July, called the lease sale a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, pictured here last July, called the lease sale a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Biden administration announced the country’s largest offshore wind lease sale ever, located in an area off the coasts of New York and New Jersey.

That sale, set for Feb. 23, will cover 488,000 acres in the area known as the New York Bight, which the administration has identified as a priority for wind energy development.

It represents a key piece of the overall offshore wind development that will be required to meet the goal President Joe Biden set last year of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy generation by 2030. The sale promises generation of as much as 7 gigawatts, enough to power 2 million homes, according to a White House fact sheet.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland described the lease sale as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to fight climate change and create jobs.

“We are at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development,” Haaland said. “We must seize this moment — and we must do it together.”

The administration initially solicited interest in more than 1.7 million acres in the area but reduced that acreage significantly in the name of minimizing environmental impacts and avoiding conflicts, including those with the commercial fishing industry.

The White House touted the upcoming sale as the centerpiece of a broader set of actions to advance the development of wind, solar and geothermal energy across the country.

“Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is making major leaps forward on wind, solar, transmission, and other clean energy projects to create high-quality jobs and deliver affordable, carbon pollution-free electricity across the country,” the White House fact sheet says.

For example, the departments of Interior, Agriculture, Defense and Energy, along with the EPA, will form a new collaboration to improve the review process for clean energy projects on public lands. Senior administration officials who spoke on the condition they not be identified characterized those measures as improving coordination and advanced planning rather than curtailing any review requirements.

Ramping up renewable energy generation, including projects on public lands, is part of Biden’s overall plan for significantly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging other countries to take their own actions to mitigate climate change.

According to the White House, the administration already has approved 18 onshore projects totaling more than 4 gigawatts and started processing an additional 54 priority projects with the potential to add at least 27.5 gigawatts.

Other agencies are taking actions as well, including the Transportation Department spending on ports in order to build and stage offshore wind turbine components and the Energy Department launching an initiative for accelerating the deployment of new transmission lines.

Not only will building up transmission lines make the grid more reliable and resilient overall in the face of more extreme weather events, but it’s key to transporting renewable energy from the more remote areas in which it’s typically generated to the population centers where it’s most needed, according to the administration.

The offshore lease sale will limit each developer to one bid in an effort to increase participation in the sale. It comes after the administration approved the country’s first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects and outlined a road map for holding seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025.

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