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Biden Admin Releases Robust Leasing Schedule For Struggling Green Industry After Issuing Restrictive Oil And Gas Plan

The Biden administration unveiled a plan Wednesday to hold up to a dozen offshore wind leases over the next several years as the industry struggles to cement itself in the U.S.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced its five-year schedule for offshore wind leasing, which envisions lease sales for plots in the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and waters off of American territories. The agency expects to offer four sales in 2024, one each in 2025 and 2026, two in 2027 and four in 2028.

The offshore wind industry is struggling in the U.S., with developers up and down the east coast backing out of contracts or requesting further assistance from the government as inflation, high borrowing costs, supply chain backups and logistical snags have taken their toll on projects. While some of the future sales announced will take place in or near regions of the Atlantic that already have offshore wind developments in place, some regions named by the DOI — like California, Hawaii and the Gulf of Mexico — do not currently have operational, utility-scale offshore wind farms.

The administration attempted to sell three areas in the Gulf of Mexico as offshore wind leases in August 2023, but the sales flopped as only one of the parcels received any bids. The Biden administration has previously touted its goal of having offshore wind supply enough electricity to power 10 million American homes by 2030, but Reuters reported in November 2023 that the lofty target for the industry appears to be firmly out of reach.

“The Biden-Harris administration, led by our Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has built an offshore wind industry from the ground up after years of delay from the previous Administration. As we look toward the future, this new leasing schedule will support the types of renewable energy projects needed to lower consumer costs, combat climate change, create jobs to support families, and ensure economic opportunities are accessible to all communities,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said of the leasing schedule. “Our offshore wind leasing schedule will provide predictability to help developers and communities plan ahead and will provide the confidence needed to continue building on the tremendous offshore wind supply chain and manufacturing investments that we’ve already seen.”

The offshore wind leasing schedule is far more robust in terms of number of sales than the five-year schedule the administration finalized for offshore oil and gas activity at the end of 2023, which only calls for four sales between 2024 and 2029. The DOI issued the bare minimum acreage for the offshore oil and gas schedule required under the terms of the Inflation Reduction Act to sell more offshore wind leases.

The DOI and BOEM did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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Nick Pope

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