Kitty Hawk NC offshore wind auction set

Thursday, January 26, 2017

U.S. plans to auction ocean sites off North Carolina for commercial offshore wind energy development advanced last week, as the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management scheduled a commercial lease sale for the sites for March 16, 2017.  But will the Trump administration continue the Obama administration's offshore wind leasing program?

Under federal law, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is charged with leasing sites on the Outer Continental Shelf for fossil fuel or renewable energy development.  To date, BOEM has held six competitive lease sales and has also awarded several leases on a non-competitive basis.

Up for auction on March 16 will be the rights to about 122,405 acres offshore Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  The Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area was first identified by BOEM in 2014, and was the subject of a Proposed Sale Notice last year.  As described in the Final Sale Notice for the Kitty Hawk offshore wind auction, the lease area is located about 24 nautical miles offshore. 

The Final Sale Notice for the Kitty Hawk lease area also identifies nine companies that BOEM has deemed legally, technically and financially qualified to participate in the upcoming lease sale:
  • Avangrid Renewables, LLC
  • Enbridge Holdings (Green Energy) LLC
  • Shell WindEnergy Inc.
  • Northland Power America Inc.
  • Wind Future LLC
  • Outer Banks Ocean Energy, LLC
  • PNE Wind USA, Inc.
  • Statoil Wind US LLC
  • wpd offshore Alpha LLC
The Kitty Hawk offshore wind site lease auction is scheduled to be held on March 16.  According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the U.S. is home to an estimated 4,200 gigawatts of potential offshore wind capacity, with most potential located in federal waters.  Competitive lease sales by BOEM to date have yielded over $58 million in winning bids.  But it may be possible for the Trump administration to change direction with respect to policies affecting federal leasing of sites for commercial offshore wind development.  President Trump's "America First Energy Plan" does include a focus on increased production of domestic energy resources, although it singles out shale oil, gas, and coal (and does not mention offshore wind).  How will U.S. offshore wind fit into America's domestic energy strategy?

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