Biden administration announces its first offshore wind auction, with more to come

Biden administration announces its first offshore wind auction, with more to come
Wayne Parry/AP

The White House unveiled several new initiatives across the government on Wednesday to bolster offshore wind production, streamline a review of public lands for clean energy and implement power grid improvements as part of the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure law.

The Department of the Interior announced that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold a wind auction next month for more than 488,000 acres off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, according to a senior administration official. This upcoming sale is expected to generate 5.6 to 7 gigawatts of clean energy, according to a government fact sheet.

The administration estimates that by 2025 it expects to hold up to six additional offshore lease sales across the nation, according to the senior official.

Wednesday’s announcement includes investments from the Department of Transportation for the Port of Albany and the Portsmouth Marine Terminal to strengthen the US offshore wind supply chain.

Since the start of his term, President Joe Biden has emphasized the role that offshore wind can play in addressing the climate crisis. He signed an executive order his first week in office that instructed the interior secretary to review permits on public lands and offshore waters, as well as identify steps to double offshore wind by 2030, laying the groundwork for Wednesday’s announcement.

Seven federal agencies, according to the fact sheet, are part of the new clean energy initiatives that will “fight climate change, produce good-paying union jobs, and accelerate America’s clean energy economy.”

Through funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Department of Energy is launching the “Building a Better Grid” initiative to help finance new and improved transmission line and other grid upgrades. In addition to $2.5 billion from the infrastructure law, this initiative will include a $3 billion expansion of the “Smart Grid Investment Grant Program” and more than $10 billion in grants for states, tribes and utilities to strengthen their grid networks and prevent outages.

“Our existing energy infrastructure will not endure accelerating impacts of extreme weather spurred by climate change,” another senior administration official said.

Additionally, the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense and Energy, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, are working to streamline and improve the reviews of clean energy projects on public lands managed by the Agriculture and Interior departments.

The US Department of Agriculture is launching a pilot program to support clean energy in rural communities, according to one senior administration official.

The rollout of initiatives and announcements come as the Build Back Better plan, Biden’s signature domestic legislative initiative that includes crucial climate investment funding, remains in legislative limbo in Congress.

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