Under US President Joe Biden’s recent climate change Executive Orders, the Biden-Harris Administration set US offshore wind plans in motion and set a goal of doubling US offshore wind leases in federal waters by 2030. Following those Orders, efforts to move the offshore industry forward were recently announced by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), with two important announcements. First, that it plans to pursue two environmental assessments on potential wind energy lease areas in the Pacific Ocean. And second, the selection of Amanda Lefton as the agency’s director. Lefton is no stranger to renewable energy development, as she has worked as the first assistant secretary for energy and the environment for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Both announcements send a message that the new administration is dedicated to doubling offshore wind capacity by 2030 and moving the United States toward 100% clean electricity by 2035.
The assessments sought by BOEM are under the National Environmental Policy Act, created to ensure federal agencies consider the environmental impacts of their actions and decisions. BOEM will now undergo a 45-day public comment period and conduct public virtual meetings.
The offshore wind industry has also seen a boost with the recent enactment of a 30% standalone federal investment tax credit (ITC), available for projects that start construction before 2026. To quote The Business Network for Offshore Wind, the ITC “is the opportunity the offshore wind industry has waited for.” Less than a week later, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued generous guidance for the new ITC, suggesting that these projects have strong support within Congress and the Department of the Treasury. The new ITC and IRS rules recognize the significant time and economic investments required for offshore wind projects, and demonstrate that the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to expanding opportunities for renewable energy development.