Carolinas offshore wind lease auction underway

FILE – Two of the offshore turbines that were built off Virginia Beach, Va. can be seen here on Monday, June 29, 2020. As Virginia-based Dominion Energy seeks to build what it calls the country’s largest offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean, the company and its supporters have touted the economic development opportunities expected to accompany the 176-turbine project. However, state regulators warn that the economic picture may not be so bright. In testimony filed earlier this month, regulators said the company relied on a “stale” economic study that didn’t account for the impact of its Virginia ratepayers bearing the cost of the approximately $10 billion project. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

A lease auction to acquire offshore wind development rights off the coast in the Carolinas is currently underway.

The Carolina Long Bacy lease sale was initiated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on May 11th at 9:00 a.m. ET. By noon, both areas had received the highest bids of $21.5 million.

Carolina Long Bay offshore wind lease area (Source: BOEM).

The timing of this auction for the Carolina Long offshore wind energy is intentional. A 10-year moratorium signed in July 2017 by former President Donald Trump will prohibit offshore wind leasing from the area stretching from North Carolina through the Gulf of Mexico and ending at the Florida Keys.

The lease areas include 110,091 acres in the Carolina Long Bay area offshore North Carolina and South Carolina. If developed, they could result in at least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.   

BOEM issued the Final Sale Notification (FSN), for the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, on March 25. Qualified offshore developers can bid for the rights of developing one or both of these lease areas.

BOEM will offer 20% credit to bidders who invest in programs that support U.S. offshore energy workforce development and supply-chain development as part of the FSN. The Department of Energy expects that offshore wind development in the U.S. could create 43,000 jobs by 2030 to support the Biden administration’s goal of developing 30 GW of offshore wind.

“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to supporting a robust clean energy economy, and the upcoming Carolina Long Bay offshore wind energy auction provides yet another excellent opportunity to strengthen the clean energy industry while creating good-paying union jobs,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

BOEM announced 16 companies pre-approved for bidding on the Carolina Long Bay offshore Wind Leases.

The companies are 547 Energy, Arevia Power, Avangrid Renewables, bp, Invenergy, Carolina Offshore Wind, Duke Energy, EDF Renewables, JERA Renewables, Masdar Offshore Wind, MRP Offshore Wind Farm, Ørsted, Ocean Winds, RWE, Shell, and TotalEnergies.

Renewable Energy World will update the story after the lease auction ends.