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Iberdrola subsidiary wins latest US offshore wind auction

Avangrid Renewables won the US’s seventh lease auction for offshore wind development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has auctioned over 122,000 acres off the coast of North Carolina to Avangrid Renewables for the development of offshore wind.

BOEM, a federal agency under the US Department of the Interior, has auctioned its seventh lease for offshore wind development for a 122,405-acre area off the coast of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The lease area begins 24 nautical miles from shore and has a potential generating capacity over 1.4GW.

Avangrid, an Oregon-based renewable energy developer and subsidiary of Iberdrola, won the auction with a bid of $9.06 million. Other bidders included Wind Future, wpd offshore Alpha and Statoil US, which won another BOEM auction for offshore wind in New York.

“The success of this lease sale reflects the continued interest of coastal communities to develop their offshore energy resources,” DOI secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “Renewable energy, like offshore wind, is one tool in the all of the above energy toolbox that will help power America with domestic energy, securing energy independence, and bolstering the economy.”

As interest in US offshore wind has increased, BOEM has now held seven lease auctions, collecting $58 million from developers for more than one million acres of federal waters.

However, winning a lease auction does not guarantee construction will ever begin. Financial and regulatory hurdles must still be cleared, a process that could take years.

For North Carolina's development, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission must first conduct a review of the auction. After that, Avangrid has one year to submit to BOEM a site assessment plan that considers environment and economic factors. Following the site assessment plan, Avangrid has four-and-a-half years to submit a construction and operations plan.

The US lags far behind Europe in offshore wind development. While Europe now has 12GW in operation, the first operational project in US waters –  a 30MW project near Block Island, Rhode Island – only came online last fall.