US announces first offshore wind rights sale in Gulf of Mexico

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States announced the first offshore wind power development rights sale in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, which President Joe Biden will discuss during a trip to highlight the administration’s efforts to boost renewable energy.

In February the United States proposed to expand offshore wind power developments into the Gulf of Mexico, introducing the nascent clean energy industry into a major hub for oil and gas production.

The Interior Department said the sale will take place on Aug. 29.

“By catalyzing the offshore wind energy potential of the Gulf of Mexico, we can tackle the climate crisis, lower energy costs for families and create good-paying jobs,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

The sale will include a lease area of 102,480 acres offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two lease areas totaling nearly 200,000 acres offshore Galveston, Texas, the White House said. Companies will bid on the right to develop those acres.

The areas have the potential to generate about 3.7 Gigawatts and power, supplying nearly 1.3 million homes with clean energy, the Interior Department said.

The Biden administration has held three offshore wind lease auctions, including the largest-ever such U.S. sale last year for areas off the New York and New Jersey coasts, that attracted a record $1.5 billion in bids, and the first ever off the Pacific coast in California.

The White House said Biden is traveling to Philadelphia on Thursday to pitch the promise of a green economy to union workers, who remain skeptical that the solar, wind and electric vehicle industries can deliver the same economic punch for organized labor as oil refineries and fossil fuel-fired power plants.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Timothy Gardner; Editing by Sonali Paul and David Holmes)