Biden Administration Advances California Offshore Wind Development

On May 25, 2021, the Biden Administration announced an agreement to lease almost 400 miles off California’s northern and central coasts for offshore wind development. The announcement expands on the recent approval of the first major offshore wind project in US waters. In an effort to decarbonize US power generation, the administration noted, “These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 gigawatts of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes.”

Furthering the Biden Administration’s “whole-of-government approach” to clean energy, the US Department of Interior in connection with the US Department of Defense identified an area northwest of Morro Bay that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind. The Humboldt Call Area is also being considered as a potential offshore wind location, which would bring 4.6 gigawatts of energy to California. The Department of Defense played a significant role in identifying areas for offshore wind development, as they take part in significant training and operations off the coast of California that are essential to national security. Both the Department of Defense and Department of Interior plan to work closely together to ensure protection of military operations while pursuing new domestic clean energy resources.

To support this development in the deep Pacific Coast waters, new floating offshore wind technology will be deployed. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has invested more than $100 million in researching, developing and demonstrating floating offshore wind technology. Floating turbine technology will likely be a prime candidate for DOE Loan Programs Office support because it is (1) large enough in scale, (2) has a long lead time to develop and (3) is not commercially scalable in the same way as offshore technology that utilizes bottom anchoring. Lenders will have questions about the technology and having that guaranty could significantly aid project financing.

Ahead of yesterday’s announcement, California invested millions into its budget for environmental needs, including funding port upgrades and power lines that will carry electricity to California homes. We expect further developments in California from a legislative perspective to further offshore development.

Carl J. Fleming
Carl J. Fleming is a transactional lawyer whose principle areas of practice are renewable energy and private equity. He leads transactions throughout the US and worldwide for a number of the renewable industry’s leading developers, global private equity funds and Fortune 500 companies. He provides legal, commercial and strategic advice on the development, purchase and sale and financing of renewable energy projects in wind, solar, energy storage, electric vehicles and other low carbon solutions. A partner in our Washington, DC office, he also advises on a number of energy and climate change policy issues. Read Carl Fleming's full bio.


Christopher Gladbach
Christopher Gladbach counsels clients in energy M&A, project development, tax equity and project finance transactions. Chris works with energy clients in structuring complex equity and debt investments, advises both buyers and sellers in the power sector in mergers and acquisitions, and joint ventures, and on the development of large-scale energy projects. He assists his clients in mitigating and allocating risk associated with these transactions in conjunction with achieving their primary business and financial objectives. Read Christopher Gladbach's full bio.


Elle Hayes
Elle Hayes focuses her practice on renewable energy transactions and general corporate matters. She represents clients on tax equity and project finance transactions. She also represents private equity sponsors and private companies in general corporate matters, particularly mergers and acquisitions. Elle represents clients and investors across a variety of industries, including renewable energy, healthcare and technology. Read Elle Hayes's full bio.

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