Gulf of Mexico Activities

GOMW-2 Recom Final WEAs MAS2023-345a
Figure 1. GOMW-2 Recommended Final WEAs

What's New?

On October 27, 2023, BOEM announced it has finalized four Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico. (See figure 1) Together, the WEAs have the potential to produce enough clean, renewable energy to power more than three million homes. The first WEA (Option J) is located approximately 47.2 miles off the coast of Texas. The area totals 495,567 acres and has the potential to power 2.1 million homes. The second area (Option K) is located approximately 61.5 miles off the coast of Texas. The area totals 119,635 acres and has the potential to power 508,200 homes. The third WEA (Option L) is located approximately 52.9 miles off the coast of Texas. The area totals 91,157 acres and has the potential to power 387,450 homes. The fourth WEA (Option N) is located approximately 82 miles off the coast of Louisiana and totals 56,978 acres. Option N has the potential to power approximately 242,000 homes.

The above final WEAs join WEA I, which was designated a final WEA on October 31, 2022. (See figure 2)

Supporting Documents

Final WEAs Map
Figure 2.

Public Engagement

Announcements

Request for Interest (RFI)

BOEM published a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register on June 11, 2021, to assess interest in potential offshore wind development in the OCS. The RFI focused on the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The RFI comment period closed on July 26, 2021, and 39 comments were received in response. BOEM determined that competitive interest exists for an area identified by the RFI. 

Call for Information and Nominations (Call)

On Nov. 1, 2021, BOEM published a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) to further assess commercial interest in, and invite public comment on, possible commercial wind energy leasing in a proposed area within the RFI area.
The Call Area consisted of almost 30 million acres just west of the Mississippi River to the Texas/Mexican border.  

Final Wind Energy Areas

On October 31, 2022, BOEM announced it has finalized two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico. The first final WEA is located approximately 24 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of Galveston, TX. The area totals 508,265 acres and has the potential to power 2.1 million homes with clean wind energy. The second final WEA is located approximately 56 nm off the coast of Lake Charles, LA. The area totals 174,275 acres and has the potential to power over 740,000 homes. The next steps in BOEM’s renewable energy competitive leasing process include issuing a Proposed Sale Notice for a 60-day public comment period later this year or early next.  

Environmental Review

On Jan. 11, 2022, BOEM announced that it prepared a draft environmental assessment (EA) considering potential offshore wind leasing in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  The draft EA considered potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archaeological and geological, as well as geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) associated with the possibility of issuing wind energy leases in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico. More information was found on the Gulf of Mexico Draft EA.

On July 20, 2022, the Department of the Interior announced it was seeking public comments on two draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico. The first draft WEA was located approximately 24 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of Galveston, TX, covering a total of 546,645 acres, with the potential to power 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy. The second draft WEA was located approximately 56 nm off the coast of Lake Charles, LA, covering a total of 188,023 acres, with the potential to power 799,000 homes. Public comments on the draft WEAs were accepted for 30 days beginning July 20, 2022. More information can be found on the Gulf of Mexico Draft WEAs.

On May 25, 2023, BOEM announced the final environmental assessment (EA). BOEM's environmental analysis found no significant impacts.

Proposed Notice of Sale

On Feb. 24, 2023, BOEM issued a Proposed Sale Notice in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period. The Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) included a 102,480-acre area offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana, and two areas offshore Galveston, Texas, one comprising 102,480 acres and the other comprising 96,786 acres. 

The PSN published in the Federal Register on February 24, 2023, opening a 60-day public comment period ending at 11:59 pm ET on April 25, 2023. To comment on the proposed revisions, go to www.regulations.gov and search for docket number BOEM-2023-0021.

Auction Seminar

BOEM held an offshore wind auction seminar on March 23, 2023, for prospective bidders, which was open to the public. The seminar described the auction format, explained the auction rules and demonstrated the auction process through meaningful examples.

Final Notice of Sale

GOM Final WEAs I and M Blocks map
Final GOM WEAs NAD83 Pts Area I
Final GOM WEAs NAD83 Pts Area M
GOM Final WEAs I & M Blocks
WEA I & M Shape Files with Metadata

The Final Sale Notice (FSN) published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2023. The FSN provided detailed information about the final lease areas, lease provisions and conditions and auction details. It also identified qualified companies who could participate in the lease auction.

Maps

Offshore Wind Auction

On August 29, 2023, BOEM held the first-ever offshore wind energy auction for the Gulf of Mexico region, resulting in one lease area receiving a high bid of $5.6 million. RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLC was the winner of the Lake Charles Lease Area, which has the potential to generate approximately 1.24 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity and power nearly 435,400 homes with clean, renewable energy.

Winners and high bids for each of the lease areas and a Round-by-Round Summary are identified below.

As required by the lease, RWE is required to develop three publicly available communication plans. Additional information is provided below.

  1. The Native American Tribes Communication Plan will describe the strategies that the Lessee intends to use for communicating with federally recognized Tribes and outlines methods for engaging with and disseminating information to federally recognized Tribes with cultural and/or historical ties to the lease area. This plan will be ready by August 31, 2024.
  2. The Fisheries Communication Plan will describe the strategies that the Lessee intends to use for communicating with commercial and recreational fisheries prior to and during activities in support of the submission of a plan, such as a Site Assessment Plan or Construction and Operations Plan.  The plan will include information on the distribution of “Notice to Mariners” and other outreach and coordination. Additionally, the plan will include RWE’s Fisheries Liaison as a primary point of contact and a process to file complaints with RWE and seek replacement of or compensation for lost gear. This plan will be ready by May 31, 2024.
  3. The Agency Communication Plan will describe the strategies that the Lessee intends to use for communicating with federal, state, and local agencies with authority related to the lease area. The plan will outline specific methods for engaging with and disseminating information related to permits and trust resources to these agencies. This plan will be ready by May 31, 2024.