Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

A new proposal aims to streamline the process for permitting and developing offshore renewable energy projects and reduce costs to developers.

By Janice Schneider, Nikki Buffa, Nathaniel Glynn, and Brian McCall

On January 30, 2023, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a new proposed rule to update the agency’s regulations governing renewable energy development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).[1] The proposed rule is the first major overhaul of BOEM’s offshore renewable energy regulations since they were promulgated, and seeks to benefit from the agency’s and industry’s experience since 2009. Since then, BOEM has conducted 11 offshore wind energy lease sales and currently is managing 27 active commercial leases.

The proposed regulations would “modernize regulations, streamline overly complex and burdensome processes, clarify ambiguous provisions and enhance compliance provisions in order to decrease costs and uncertainty associated with the deployment of offshore wind facilities,” and would save developers an estimated $1 billion over a 20-year period.[2] Regulatory changes to decrease costs and increase certainty for developers are particularly critical when offshore wind energy developers are facing ever-increasing installation and materials costs. Some developers are even seeking to renegotiate power purchase agreements for their contracts that account for increased development costs. Comments on the proposed rule are due by March 31, 2023.

The action marks the clearance of another significant hurdle toward BOEM’s offshore wind lease sales in federal waters offshore California, anticipated to occur this fall.

By Nikki Buffa, Jennifer K. Roy, Janice M. Schneider, Brian McCall, and Julie Miles

In the first half of 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has moved swiftly toward the first offshore wind lease sales in California, currently anticipated to occur in the fall. BOEM has identified a total of five proposed leases across two areas — the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) and the Morro Bay WEA. In April 2022, BOEM issued a Consistency Determination for the Morro Bay WEA — as required by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Federal Consistency Regulations — and, just last week, the California Coastal Commission (the Commission) conditionally concurred with this determination.

The proposal would auction off almost 375,000 acres of the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California for wind energy development.

By Nikki Buffa, Janice M. Schneider, Nathaniel Glynn, and Brian McCall

On May 31, 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for a pair of renewable energy lease sales offshore California. The PSN — which is the third offshore wind auction under the Biden-Harris Administration — represents a major inflection point in the complex and sometimes contentious process to bring wind power to the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore California. The timing of the PSN also dovetails with the California Energy Commission’s May 2022 announcement of the nation’s most ambitious target for offshore wind development: the state is seeking to construct 3 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, with the potential for 10 to 15 gigawatts by 2045.