Connecting state and local government leaders
The planned federal auction for sites near New York and New Jersey comes as the Biden administration continues its push for offshore wind power development. State and local leaders are eying economic opportunities tied to the industry.
Developers of offshore wind power projects will have a chance to bid on six lease areas spread across about 480,000 acres off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, the Department of Interior said Wednesday.
The Biden administration is pressing to install infrastructure that can generate 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. Interior says that the newly announced sale, in an area known as New York Bight, could generate 5.6 to 7 gigawatts. The department also said the six areas up for lease would be the most offered in a single auction.
Reducing carbon emissions from the nation's power sector and combatting climate change are key goals with the projects, but state and local leaders are also eager to capitalize on the jobs and economic development the offshore wind industry can provide.
"Offshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
“We are at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development," she added.
The New York Bight lease areas are located in waters south of Long Island and east of New Jersey. If developed as planned, the sites could generate enough electricity to power nearly 2 million homes.
At the end of 2020, the U.S. had a total of about 1,120 gigawatts of utility scale electricity generating capacity, with about 25% from renewable sources, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, both Democrats, joined Haaland in making Wednesday's announcement. The two states and Department of Interior have committed to a "shared vision" for helping to build up the offshore wind sector.
Murphy described "tremendous promise" tied to the industry with economic growth, workforce development and jobs.
Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees offshore wind leases, also said this week it was moving ahead with review processes for lease sales in two other regions—one off the Gulf Coast and another off of Northern California.
The White House on Wednesday touted how the Transportation Department recently awarded grants of $20 million for a staging and storage port for wind turbine parts in the Norfolk, Virginia area, as well as a $29 million grant for an offshore wind tower manufacturing port in Albany, New York, which is situated on the Hudson River.
Bill Lucia is a senior editor with Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.