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Biden Administration Advances Wind Energy Initiatives in Gulf of Mexico

On Friday, the Biden administration made strides in promoting wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department designated four new “wind energy areas” where rights for wind power development can be auctioned.

The administration estimates that these four zones have the potential to generate enough electricity to power approximately 3.23 million households. Three of these areas are located off the Texas coast, and one is off Louisiana’s coast.

Elizabeth Klein, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s director, stated that the agency is keen on expanding offshore wind projects in the Gulf, citing “ongoing industry enthusiasm and input from key partners and stakeholders.”

Although the first auction for offshore wind rights in the Gulf, held last August, saw bids on just one of the three available plots, the wind industry’s trade associations have welcomed this new announcement.

John Begala, Vice President of Federal and State Policy at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, expressed that the Gulf’s expertise in offshore construction is unmatched. He believes that the innovations coming from this region will propel not just the U.S. but also the global offshore wind industry.

Interestingly, the future of offshore wind energy is somewhat linked to offshore oil drilling, due to a provision in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The act stipulates that an offshore oil rights auction must have taken place within the past year for the government to issue an offshore wind lease. This clause is generally considered to have been included to gain the support of swing vote Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).