Federal lease offer could spur up to 7 GW of offshore wind

By Mike Caitlin, Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The federal government will lease an area larger than half the size of Rhode Island off New Jersey’s and New York’s coasts for wind power development, the first offshore lease in the Biden Administration, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced January 12.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management auction of nearly 500,000 acres (202,300 hectares) is planned for February. It covers parcels off the so-called New York Bight and could lead to enough energy production to power up to 2 million homes, according to the Interior Department.

The announcement came as President Joe Biden’s administration aims to reach 30 GW of offshore wind production by 2030, with more than half of it expected to come from New Jersey and New York by 2035. Projects developed as part of the lease announcement account for up to 7 GW, the department said.

Earlier in January, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $500 million offshore wind investment to include manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure. The state plans to develop 4,300 MW of offshore wind energy, representing nearly half of New York’s 9,000 MW goal for 2035. Coupled with the $500 million, the state will launch its next offshore wind procurement in 2022, which is expected to result in at least 2 GW of new projects.

Haaland announced the federal lease on a call that was joined by Democratic governors Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Kathy Hochul of New York as well as AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.

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

The decision to move forward with the lease came after stakeholders, including commercial fisheries, weighed in and resulted in a reduction of the size of the lease area by 72%, according to the department.

The closest distance to New Jersey among the parcels is 27 nautical miles (50 kilometers) offshore. The nearest to New York is 20 nautical miles away (37 kilometers), according to the bureau.

The project carries several stipulations, including the requirement of project labor agreements and planned incentives for using components like blades, turbines and foundations made in the United States.

The project is the fist lease under Biden’s administration, but other offshore wind projects had been approved earlier, including an 800 MW project off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and a 130 MW project off Rhode Island and New York.

The auction is set for Feb. 23, with a public hearing about the proposal set for Jan. 19.

Additional reporting by Renewable Energy World editors.