US Sale of Wind Development Rights Gets Record-setting Offers

    25 February 2022

    The U.S. government says a sale of wind energy development rights off the East Coast has received record-setting offers.

    The auction sale began February 23. Energy companies are offering to buy the development rights for six areas that total more than 197,000 hectares. The areas are off the coasts of the states of New Jersey and New York in what is called the New York Bight.

    By early Friday, the offers, or bids, totaled nearly $4 billion.

    FILE - Part of the offshore wind farm that has been built off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia on June 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
    FILE - Part of the offshore wind farm that has been built off the coast of Virginia Beach, Virginia on June 29, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

    It is the first offshore wind lease sale under President Joe Biden's administration. Biden has pushed for more wind energy. It is an important part of his administration's plans to deal with climate change. The administration has said the goal is to create jobs in the United States.

    Europe depends more on energy from wind than North America and has more offshore wind farms.

    There are currently two small offshore wind farms in the United States off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia. Two larger projects were recently approved for development.

    Fred Zalcman is the director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. He said, "We're really just at the beginning of a process here." He added that the organization hopes to learn from Europe and gain from Europe's cost savings from wind farming.

    The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) oversees energy development in federal waters. It is offering the six leases for the areas in the New York Bight.

    The sale is the largest U.S. offshore wind auction ever held. The administration has said the energy produced from the areas could one day power nearly 2 million homes.

    The sale was carried out online. BOEM's website reported the bids. The total is larger than recent combined offers for U.S. government offshore oil and gas sales in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The earlier U.S. offshore wind development auction record was set in 2018. It was valued at $405 million.

    BOEM reportedly said 14 companies were involved in the auction. Government documents showed that approved bidders included parent companies Equinor ASA, Avangrid Inc, BP Plc, and Eletricite de France SA, among others.

    Under the rules of the auction, each company can only win one lease.

    Before the sale started, there were 25 possible bidders. The area up for auction is 22 percent smaller than first proposed because of fishing industry and military concerns.

    Zalcman said that state and federal officials have been considering the concerns of other groups. These include the fishing, shipping and boat transportation industries. Officials also said they studied the environmental effects on animals and how the farms will appear from the coast.

    A group representing people in New Jersey brought a legal case against BOEM over the plans. It said the large wind farms would reduce the number of visitors to the area, hurting the area's economy and property values.

    How developers design the wind farms will be subject to another intense debate.

    I'm Gregory Stachel.

    Steve Herman reported this story for Voice of America. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English with additional material from Reuters.


    Words in This Story

    auction – n. a public sale at which things are sold to the people who offer to pay the most

    lease – n. a legal agreement that lets someone use a car, house, or something else for a period of time in return for payment

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