U.S. pushes forward on clean energy with plan for record offshore wind sale


By Nichola Groom

Jan 12 (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Wednesday outlined a range of measures to speed the growth of clean energy on the U.S. power grid, including the government's largest ever sale of offshore wind leases in waters off the coast of New York and New Jersey.

The announcement, which seeks to advance President Joe Biden's ambitious climate change agenda, comes as sweeping legislation to support those goals is stalled in Congress. It is aligned with Biden's pledge to take an "all-of-government" approach to fight global warming and decarbonize the U.S. electricity grid by 2035.

The White House is "continuing to pursue this agenda every way we know how," a senior administration official said on a briefing call with reporters on Tuesday.

In a wide-ranging memo, the administration unveiled actions being taken by seven federal agencies that it says will accelerate deployment of wind and solar projects while creating well-paying jobs, a cornerstone of Biden's pledge to voters during his presidential campaign.

The centerpiece of the announcement is a sale next month of six commercial leases in the New York Bight, an area of shallow waters between New York's Long Island and New Jersey. The leases are projected to one day host projects able to generate up to 7 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 2 million homes, the administration said.

The sale would be the first offshore wind auction under Biden, who last year launched an aggressive push to expand the nascent ocean industry with the approval of the nation's first two commercial-scale projects.

Onshore, the administration announced steps to slash the time it takes to permit clean energy projects on public lands through better coordination between five key agencies and the creation of renewable energy coordination offices at the Department of Interior.

It also unveiled a major federal effort to build out thousands of miles of electric transmission lines that will be able to carry clean energy from solar and wind facilities to U.S. communities. The Building a Better Grid initiative will tap billions of dollars in funding from the $1 trillion infrastructure law passed in November to finance new lines and grid upgrades.

The administration said it would ensure that the benefits of clean energy investment will reach rural communities through a new $10 million grant program at the Agriculture Department to support projects in poor areas.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler)


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