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VOL. 46 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 7, 2022

Biden to hold wind power auction off NY, New Jersey coast

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Biden administration said Wednesday it will hold its first offshore wind auction next month, offering nearly 500,000 acres off the coast of New York and New Jersey for wind energy projects that could produce enough electricity to power nearly 2 million homes.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the Feb. 23 auction in the New York Bight region will allow offshore wind developers to bid on six lease areas, the most ever offered in an auction for offshore wind and wind energy projects.

"The Biden-Harris administration has made tackling the climate crisis a centerpiece of our agenda, and 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.

The auction comes after the administration announced a flurry of clean energy actions Wednesday, such as steps to speed up reviews of clean energy projects on public lands, including solar, onshore wind and geothermal energy. 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.

The administration also said it is accelerating the deployment of new transmission lines, as enabled by the new bipartisan infrastructure law, to make the grid more reliable and resilient in the face of intensifying extreme weather. Last year was the deadliest weather year for the contiguous United States since 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Monday. A total of 688 people died in 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that cost a combined $145 billion, the agency said.

President Joe Biden has set a goal to install 30 gigawatts of offshore wind 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 has 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.

Democratic Govs. Kathy Hochul of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey hailed the New York Bight lease sale, saying it would help their states chart an ambitious path toward a clean energy economy. The projects there could produce up to 7 gigawatts of electricity.

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

"Offshore wind holds the tremendous promise for our future in terms of climate change, economic growth and job creation," Murphy added. "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."

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%, according to the Interior Department.

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.

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Daly reported from Washington.

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