(Reuters) -France-based TotalEnergies and U.S. power company Duke Energy Corp each won offshore wind leases in federal waters off the coast of North and South Carolina on Wednesday, the Interior Department said in a statement.
The auction generated $315 million in winning bids, split between Duke at $155 million and TotalEnergies at $160 million. It was TotalEnergies’ second U.S. offshore wind lease secured this year.
The sale is part of a broad U.S. government push to put wind turbines in federal waters along every U.S. coastline. U.S. President Joe Biden has said the nascent offshore wind industry will create good-paying jobs while creating the carbon-free electricity needed to combat climate change.
“Today’s lease sale is further proof that there is strong industry interest and that America’s clean energy transition is here,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in a statement.
Combined, the leases cover 110,091 acres (44,552 hectares) in the Carolina Long Bay area. Once developed, they could generate 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, or enough to power half a million homes, according to the Interior Department.
The auction total was far less than the $4.37 billion in high bids generated at a February wind auction for leases off the coast of New York and New Jersey. Northeastern leases were widely seen as more attractive due to the region’s high power prices and state mandates to procure offshore wind power.
TotalEnergies paid $795 million for a lease at the New York Bight auction. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
A trade group noted that the Carolina sale’s winning bids were 17 times higher than a winning bid in the same region five years ago.
“With three separate wind projects now in the area, and potentially more on the way, the Carolinas are positioned to be the next American offshore wind hub,” National Ocean Industries Association President Erik Milito said in a statement.
The auction marked Duke’s first foray into the U.S. offshore wind market. The company is the owner of regulated utilities in North Carolina, and is working with state regulators to achieve a state goal to reduce power sector emissions by 70% below 2005 levels by 2030.
(Reporting by Nichola Groom, additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Bernard Orr and Bill Berkrot)