The Biden administration has pledged to complete the offshore wind leasing program next year, according to the Interior Department. Despite the delays in the preparatory work and the decline in industrial demand, the administration is determined to achieve its goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by the end of the decade. This ambitious plan was presented in October 2021 and includes the sale of leases in seven regions of the United States.
Currently, auctions are held in four regions: New York and New Jersey, the Carolinas, California, and the Gulf of Mexico. The remaining three regions—the Central Atlantic, Oregon Pacific Coast, and Gulf of Maine—have lease auctions scheduled for 2024. However, concerns have been raised due to delays in preparatory work for these sales.
For example, the Central Atlantic auction, which is expected to take place this year, has not yet divided the designated area into proposed rental areas. Similarly, in the Gulf of Maine, the 10 million-acre area identified for wind energy has not yet been divided into smaller lease areas. These delays could create administrative hurdles if the auctions are not held before the third quarter of 2024, as federal law requires offshore wind lease auctions to take place within 12 months of the most recent auction.
The Department of the Interior, which is responsible for overseeing lease auctions, is also currently holding an oil and gas lease auction in the Gulf of Mexico. A new five-year oil and gas lease plan will be released soon, and it is not yet clear if sales in 2024 will be included.
Despite the challenges and concerns, the Department of the Interior is committed to achieving its goals for offshore wind energy. Tracy Moriarty, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the agency will comply with the Inflation Reduction Act and end the five-year oil and gas leasing plan while continuing to prioritize wind development in the ocean.
Although demand for offshore wind leasing has recently declined due to industry cost inflation, the Biden administration remains steadfast in its commitment to offshore wind as a key component of decarbonizing the US energy sector and the fight against climate change.