The Department of the Interior today announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on Dec. 6 for areas on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) off central and northern California.

This will be the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on the U.S. west coast and the first-ever U.S. sale to support potential commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development. BOEM will offer five California OCS lease areas that total approximately 373,268 acres with the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy, power more than 1.5 million homes, and support thousands of new jobs, the agency said.

BOEM said the sale will be critical to achieving the Biden administration’s deployment goals of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.

“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable. I am proud of the teams at the Interior Department that are moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the president’s goals to make offshore wind energy, including floating offshore wind energy, a reality for the United States,” saidInterior Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today, we are taking another step toward unlocking the immense offshore wind energy potential off our nation’s west coast to help combat the effects of climate change while lowering costs for American families and creating good-paying union jobs.”“The future of offshore wind is floating, and today’s lease auction announcement is another exciting step to advancing the U.S. as a premier market for this cutting edge industry, which will bring a reliable renewable resource  to California’s power sector," said Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. "Bolstered both by California’s long-term goals and the federal government’s Earth Shot initiative, the West Coast market will singularly rival those on the global stage and could draw billions in U.S. supply chain investments. However, the U.S. must move with urgency to capture this rare economic opportunity by freeing up critical support for port and transmission investments, and do the hard work to identify and build an American supply chain that will anchor the U.S. as a global industry leader.”

In May 2021, Haaland and California Gov. Gavin Newsom joined the Biden administration to announce an agreement to advance areas for wind energy development offshore the northern and central coasts of California. The California sale reflects the leasing path announced last year by Haaland and last month’s announcement of a new deployment goal of 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy by 2035.

To date, BOEM has held 10 competitive lease sales and issued 27 active commercial wind leases in the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

"California and the entire West Coast are well-positioned for global leadership in the deployment of floating wind technology," said National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Erik Milito. "Scaling and deploying floating wind projects is fundamental to tapping the vast wind resources of the frontier deepwater areas off our Pacific Coast and around the globe. Federal offshore leasing and permitting offshore California will spur renewable energy growth while creating jobs and investment. 

“Collaboration among stakeholders and federal agencies will continue to be crucial to the success of the offshore wind sector. Specifically, continued engagement among BOEM, NOAA, the military and other stakeholders will help ensure that sufficient flexibility is provided and impediments are avoided. The experience of the offshore industry demonstrates that offshore wind effectively coexists and thrives along with local marine life and existing oceanic industries.”

The California Final Sale Notice (FSN), which will publish in the Federal Register later this week, provides detailed information about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions, and auction details. It also identifies qualified companies who can participate in the lease auction.

The FSN includes three lease areas off central California and two lease areas off northern California. It also includes several lease stipulations designed to promote the development of a robust domestic U.S. supply chain, advance flexibility in transmission planning, and create good paying union jobs.

On May 26, 2022, the Department announced the Proposed Sale Notice for offshore wind energy development located offshore central and northern California. During the 60-day comment period, BOEM received valuable feedback on several lease stipulations that reaffirmed BOEM’s commitment to create good-paying union jobs and to engage with Tribal governments, underserved communities, ocean users and other stakeholders.

More information about the FSN and lease stipulations, a map of the area, the list of qualified bidders for the auction, and auction procedures is available on BOEM's California website.