Biden administration moves toward more wind energy in Gulf of Mexico

The Biden administration took a step Friday to advance the development of more wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Interior Department finalized four new “wind energy areas” where it can auction off the right to set up wind power.

Together, electricity produced at the four areas could be enough to power as many as 3.23 million homes combined, according to the administration.

Three of the locations are off the coast of Texas, while one is off the coast of Louisiana.

Elizabeth Klein, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said in a written statement that her agency is pursuing more offshore wind in the Gulf because of “continued industry interest and feedback from our partners and key stakeholders.”

The first offshore wind auction in the Gulf of Mexico was held in August and resulted in bidding on only one of three available tracts.

Nevertheless, trade groups representing the wind industry praised the announcement.

John Begala, vice president of federal and state policy at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said in a written statement that “Gulf expertise in offshore construction is unparalleled, and innovative solutions developed there will continue to drive not just the U.S. but the global offshore wind industry forward.”

While the step moves the country toward another offshore wind rights auction, the future of offshore wind was last year tied to the future of offshore drilling.

The Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) mandates that to issue an offshore wind lease, the government needs to have held an offshore oil rights auction within the past year. This provision is widely seen as being included to help secure the support of swing vote Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

The administration was expected to hold another offshore oil auction next month, but a recent court action made the timeline for that lease sale less clear.

In the more distant future, the Biden administration recently indicated it would hold as many as three additional offshore oil lease auctions for the duration of its 2024-29 plan, the fewest in program history.

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