First Lease for Offshore Wind Power Planned Off Northeast Coast With Auction of 500K Acres

The Biden administration will hold an offshore wind energy auction for nearly 500,000 acres off the New York and New Jersey coast.

The New York Bight area auction will be on February 23, where offshore wind developers bid on six lease areas. According to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, this is the largest offshore wind energy auction. Haaland said the Biden-Harris administration has made climate change a central issue, and this project offers new opportunities.

"Offshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States," Haaland said.

New York and New Jersey's governors, Kathy Hochul and Phil Murphy, said the project would help both states pave a path toward a clean energy economy. The wind energy from this auction could produce up to 7 gigawatts of electricity, powering nearly 2 million homes.

"Today's milestone further highlights New York's commitment to reaching its offshore wind goals,″ Hochul said in a statement.

Murphy added this project will help fight the growing concern of climate change, while also creating new jobs.

"New Jersey is already committed to creating nearly one-quarter of the nation's offshore wind generation market, and these transformative projects are proof that climate action can drive investments in infrastructure and manufacturing while creating good-paying, union jobs,″ Murphy said.

In addition to the upcoming auction, the administration said the bipartisan infrastructure law will help fast track the development of new transmission lines, making energy grids more reliant during extreme weather conditions.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, last year was the deadliest weather year in the continental U.S. since 2011. The agency said weather and climate disasters cost more than $145 billion and caused 688 deaths.

Offshore Wind Auction
This is the first offshore wind auction, where companies can bid for 500,000 acres. Above, wind turbines,of the Block Island Wind Farm tower above the water on October 14, 2016, off the shores of Block Island, Rhode Island. DON EMMERT/Getty Images

The administration also introduced several clean energy projects, including processes that will help review clean energy projects on public lands, including renewable energy solutions such as solar, wind and geothermal.

The Interior Department has approved 18 onshore projects during Biden's first year in office. The projects are set to deliver more than 4 gigawatts of clean energy.

President Joe Biden has set a goal to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind projects by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes. The administration has approved the nation's first two commercial-scale offshore wind projects in federal waters: the 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project off the Massachusetts coast and the 130-megawatt South Fork wind farm near New York's Long Island.

Haaland said the Interior Department hopes to conduct as many as seven offshore wind lease sales by 2025, including the New York Bight and sales offshore in the Carolinas and California later this year.

According to the Interior Department, the decision to move forward with the lease comes after commercial fisheries and other stakeholders weighed in, resulting in a reduction of the size of the lease area by 72 percent.

The closest distance to New Jersey among the parcels is 27 nautical miles offshore, while the nearest to New York is 20 nautical miles away, the department said.

The project carries several stipulations, including the requirement of project labor agreements and planned incentives for using components like blades, turbines and foundations made in the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.