Biden administration planning massive expansion of offshore wind farms

Biden administration planning massive expansion of offshore wind farms
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Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal Biden taps Obama-era official to lead Fish and Wildlife Service MORE and the department announced a series of next steps in the Biden administration's offshore wind push.

Haaland said Wednesday that the U.S. could hold as many as seven lease sales by 2025 for companies who want to use oceans to develop wind energy offshore.  

These sales could happen in the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, Central Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore of the Carolinas, California and Oregon, according to the Interior Department.

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Haaland said the department would also soon announce a final decision on whether to approve the country's second commercial-scale offshore wind farm, hinting at approval.

"In the coming weeks, we will announce a decision on South Fork Wind which could be — which will be — the second commercial wind farm in federal waters we've approved," she said during remarks at the  American Clean Power’s Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Boston. 

The department in May approved the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm, called Vineyard Wind, which has to be constructed before it can start producing power. 

The Interior Department also said in a statement that its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is working on new guidelines for identifying areas that could be used for offshore wind leasing. 

It will also consider how “innovative” lease stipulations including reporting requirements aimed at lessening conflicts with other ocean users, mechanisms for labor agreements and investing in the domestic supply chain. 

The news comes amid a push by the administration to exponentially grow the country’s current offshore wind capacity to 30,000 megawatts by 2030, which they say is enough to power more than 10 million homes. 

Currently, the U.S. has just two operational offshore wind farms that together represent 42 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. 

"We are well on our way to meeting those goals," Haaland said Wednesday, citing the Vineyard Wind approval, and the department's goal of finishing 16 reviews of construction plans by 2025.

The news also comes as the Biden administration is pushing to grow clean energy at large to combat climate change.

In particular, it’s hoping to do so with incentives baked into Democrats’ spending legislation, in addition to departmental actions that spur growth. 

But, with resistance from some conservative members of the caucus, it’s not clear how much will be accomplished legislatively.

Updated on Oct. 14 at 8:16 a.m.