43 Companies to Compete For Five California Offshore Wind Leases
On Tuesday, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Power Administration, or BOEM, will public sale off 5 leases for the event of offshore wind vitality amenities alongside the California Coast – the primary such lease sale on the West Coast of the US. Two of the websites are situated off the coast of Humboldt, California, whereas the opposite three are situated close to Morro Bay. Mixed, the 5 areas to be leased embody over 500 sq. miles of ocean – an space bigger than the Metropolis of Los Angeles.
Competing for these 5 leases are 43 firms together with BP U.S. Offshore Wind Power LLC, a subsidiary of BP, and Shell New Energies U.S. LLC, a subsidiary of Shell. Nonetheless, successful one among these leases won’t give firms the flexibility to dive straight into setting up offshore wind amenities alongside the California coast. As a substitute, successful a lease merely marks the start of a sequence of regulatory hoops every firm should undergo earlier than getting a inexperienced mild to assemble the amenities – a course of East Coast lessees and companies alike have already began to navigate.
Many East Coast Leases, Few Offshore Wind Farms
The primary offshore wind leases had been auctioned off by the BOEM in 2012. Since then, 30 offshore wind leases (together with 27 industrial leases) have been issued for the Jap Seaboard. But solely two leased areas are at the moment working offshore wind amenities: Rhode Island’s Sea2Shore: The Renewable Hyperlink Venture and Virginia’s Offshore Wind Pilot Venture.
Rhode Island’s Sea2Shore Venture
The Sea2Shore Venture allowed the Block Island Wind Farm, situated in state waters, to put down connection traces in federally regulated waters to attach the wind farm to mainland Rhode Island. Utilizing the transmission traces licensed by the Sea2Shore Venture, the Block Island Wind Farm started delivering electrical energy to the Rhode Island grid in December 2016, making it the US’ first offshore wind facility.
The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Venture
In contrast to Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm, whose main infrastructure was constructed in areas regulated by the state of Rhode Island, Virginia’s offshore wind pilot mission represents the U.S.’s first offshore wind mission to be constructed in federal waters. Undertaken by Virginia’s main utility firm, Dominion Power, in collaboration with the state of Virginia, the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Venture allowed Dominion to assemble two offshore wind generators 27 miles offshore of the Virginia shoreline for analysis functions. The pilot mission’s wind generators started delivering Might 2020. As we speak, the 2 wind generators constructed by mission stay the U.S.’s solely two wind generators situated in federal waters.
Classes discovered from the pilot mission might be included into the design of Dominion’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Venture, which goals to assemble 176 wind generators which might be anticipated to provide sufficient vitality to energy greater than 600,000 properties. Nonetheless, virtually 10 years after Dominion was awarded an offshore wind lease for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Venture, the mission stays unbuilt with public criticism leaving the mission’s future unsure.
Beneath Building: The South Fork Wind Farm and Winery Wind
Two different offshore wind tasks are at the moment beneath building on the East Coast: the South Fork Wind Farm, situated off the coast of Rhode Island, and Winery Wind 1, situated off the coast of Massachusetts. The tasks had been awarded federal leases in 2013 and 2015, respectively, and have every since acquired all federal permits wanted to start building.
By the point every is anticipated to return on-line, it’s going to have been a couple of decade since their leases had been awarded.
Nonetheless, neither the South Fork Wind Farm nor Vineyward Wind 1 are within the clear but.
Massachusetts’ Winery Wind 1 Venture particularly has confronted quite a few authorized challenges, together with a current authorized submitting towards the mission from the Accountable Offshore Improvement Alliance, or RODA, a gaggle representing the industrial fishing trade. As a part of the submitting, RODA argues varied federal companies, together with the BOEM, the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers, and the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued permits for the mission with out finishing an evaluation of the mission’s potential to affect the endangered North Atlantic Proper Whale (concern over which just lately induced the Maine lobster fishery to lose its coveted sustainable seafood certification from the Marine Stewardship Council).
RODA additionally claims federal companies didn’t adequately assess different, non-water-dependent tasks (i.e., land-based wind farms) and that the Winery Wind 1 mission would end result within the unlawful exclusion of business fisherman from the realm.
Related litigation was filed towards each the South Fork Wind and Winery Wind 1 tasks in February 2022 by Allco Renewable Power Ltd, a photo voltaic vitality firm. In its litigation, the corporate argues that, amongst different issues, the mission may jeopardize endangered species and launch oil into the ocean ought to the generators topple over throughout hurricane-level wind occasions and that the mission would end result within the “decimation of the industrial fishing trade”.
For the reason that submitting, Allco’s complaints towards the 2 tasks have been separated into two separate circumstances. As well as, quite a few Allco’s claims have been dismissed as a result of Allco failed to offer federal companies with well timed discover previous to submitting its litigation. Allco is anticipated to re-file the dismissed claims.
BOEM’s First California Offshore Wind Leases
Regardless of the numerous unresolved authorized actions plaguing the expansion of offshore wind on the East Coast, the BOEM is constant to judge new potential offshore wind areas and public sale off industrial leases. Already this 12 months the BOEM has issued eight leases for areas off the coast of New York and North Carolina. Following Tuesday’s scheduled lease public sale, the full variety of BOEM-issued industrial offshore wind leases will go as much as 31 leases. Collectively, the 15 leases issued this 12 months signify a virtually 70% improve in offshore leases in 2022 alone.
The fast progress in federal offshore wind leases has been made attainable, largely, by the Biden Administration, which in 2021 set a purpose of acquiring 30 gigawatts of vitality from offshore wind by 2030. In September 2022, the Biden Administration expanded this purpose to incorporate a further 15 gigawatts of vitality from floating offshore wind by 2035 – the kind of offshore wind expertise that might be deployed off the California coast.
Nonetheless, even with the Biden Administration’s assist, it’s more likely to be not less than a pair years till any offshore wind amenities are constructed within the west.
Even with out delays associated to litigation or public criticism, the entities awarded the 5 new California offshore wind leases could have many regulatory obligations to meet earlier than offshore wind will develop into a actuality for the golden state, together with necessities from the California Coastal Fee.
The Lengthy Street from Lease to Building
Primarily based on the necessities outlined in every of the BOEM’s draft leases, every of the California offshore wind leases could have an preliminary time period of only one 12 months. To increase the lease time period, every firm might want to submit a Web site Evaluation Plan (SAP) to the BOEM and the California Coastal Fee for evaluation or receive authorization for an extension.
Every Web site Evaluation Plan might want to describe how the lessee plans to survey the leased space. The info collected throughout the preliminary web site evaluation stage might be utilized by every firm to tell their offshore wind designs. Whereas these surveys are a vital element of offshore wind growth, they typically use loud, repetitive sound waves that may harm and even kill marine life. As well as, the vessels working the survey gear are prone to colliding with marine life, significantly whales.
Nonetheless, to reduce potential impacts to marine life, every of the BOEM’s draft leases already embrace quite a few survey necessities, together with a most survey vessel pace restrict of 10 knots, mandated third-party marine life observers on every survey vessel, and reporting necessities in order that companies just like the BOEM can assess the impacts of the survey efforts. By its survey plan evaluation course of, the BOEM and the California Coastal Fee could have the chance to make sure every firm’s survey plan will adjust to lease necessities and to offer the 2 companies with the chance to introduce further environmental protections.
As soon as a lessee has obtained company approval of their Web site Evaluation Plan, accomplished all licensed surveys, and developed an offshore wind design, they may then put together and submit a Building and Operations Plan (COP) to the BOEM and the California Coastal Fee. After every company has performed an preliminary evaluation of the Plan, and after any requested modifications are addressed, the COP will bear formal analysis beneath the Nationwide Environmental Coverage Act (NEPA) earlier than receiving last federal approval.
The NEPA course of requires a federal “lead company” – on this case, the BOEM – to arrange a report that assesses every offshore wind amenities’ results on the atmosphere. The general public is then invited to offer feedback on the draft report. Relying on the character of the feedback acquired, the BOEM could then ask the lessee to conduct further research. As soon as all feedback on the draft report have been thought-about, a last report is revealed. If no new, substantive feedback are supplied on the ultimate report, the BOEM can problem a last choice, finishing the NEPA course of.
As soon as a last choice is revealed for a mission’s Building and Operations Plan, the mission can receive permits from the numerous different companies, just like the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers and the Nationwide Marine Fisheries Service, which oversee the U.S.’s coastal waters and the species that reside inside them. Solely in spite of everything company approvals are obtained and the BOEM points a “file of choice” could building in any of California’s 5 leased areas start.