On Friday February 25, the Biden administration continued its push to achieve 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced three Call Areas for the development of floating offshore wind in federal waters off the Oregon coast. The Call Areas, located 13.8 miles off the coast of central and southern Oregon near Coos Bay, Bandon and Brookings are the agency’s first step in determining competitive interest for leases. The announcement came just ahead of the 10th BOEM Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting, and on the same day that BOEM announced the results of the historic $4.37 billion competitive lease sale in the New York Bight.
The Call Areas on the Oregon coast total 2,181 square miles at depths of up to 1,300 meters. Those areas will be whittled down into smaller Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) by the end of 2022 according to BOEM, but only after BOEM considers public comments on the areas themselves, ocean uses, and stakeholder concerns. Whether BOEM is required undertake a full environmental analysis of the WEAs it ultimately identifies prior to issuing leases, however, is a question our colleague Cherise Gaffney raised in a separate article for Utility Dive last year.
Assuming things move forward as planned, BOEM’s near-term target matches the state’s 2021 goal in H.B. 3375 to “plan for the development” of up to 3 GW of floating offshore wind projects in federal waters by 2030. BOEM expects to offer up to 3 GW in leases by the first quarter of 2024, taking advantage of the estimated 2.6 GW the National Renewable Energy Lab estimates could be installed without major upgrades to the trans-coastal transmission system in Oregon. However, it is worth noting that the three Call Areas are adjacent to only two of the five existing substations identified by NREL as potential points of interconnection.