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US signs major wind power deal to provide electricity for 1.5 million homes

Joe Biden at COP26 last year
Joe Biden at COP26 last year   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Evan Vucci
By Tim Gallagher  with Reuters

The US government has signed-off on potential wind farms off the country’s west coast, bringing one of the world’s biggest polluters one step closer to net-zero.

The Biden administration on Thursday proposed auctioning five areas off the coast of California for offshore wind development, a critical milestone in expanding the nascent US industry to Pacific waters.

It is the latest in a government effort to put wind turbines along every US coastline, with a goal of generating 30 gigawatts of power by 2030, enough to power nearly 10 million homes.

President Joe Biden has said the new industry will create jobs and combat climate change.

Where does America have wind turbines?

The announcement comes on the heels of two successful auctions this year in Atlantic waters. So far, US offshore wind development has mainly been in the Northeast and has been dominated by European energy companies.

The sale notice includes three lease areas off central California near Morro Bay and two areas off the northern coast near Humboldt County. The areas were first identified by the Department of the Interior a year ago for potential development.

The areas total about 150,950 hectares that could one day generate more than 4.5 gigawatts of energy and power 1.5 million homes, the Interior Department said in a statement.

Is California on track for net-zero?

Mike Blake/REUTERS
California's coastline may soon play host to climate change-tackling wind powerMike Blake/REUTERS

The projects will help California, which has among the most aggressive climate change policies in the nation, achieve its goal of removing fossil fuels from its power grid by 2045.

The state earlier this month set a preliminary goal of building 3 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and up to 12 additional GW by 2045.

The Interior Department will seek public comment on the proposal for 60 days. At that time, it will decide whether to issue a final sale notice that would include a date for the auction.

Projects off the California coast would use floating turbines, an emerging technology, because of the depth of the outer continental shelf in the Pacific.