Editor’s note: This developing story was updated at 8 p.m. Dec. 6.

The first U.S. offshore wind lease sale off California will continue Dec. 7 after ending the first day of bidding with more than $400 million in bids from wind energy players looking to enter the Pacific Ocean’s deep water.

The auction paused for a recess late Dec. 6 after more than seven hours of bidding on leases up for grabs in the Humboldt and Morro Bay areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

The day ended at Round 20 with six bidders seeking wind development rights.

Winners of the auction could set the course for commercial-scale floating wind projects in the U.S. Development of the wind energy areas will push the U.S. toward the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 15 gigawatts (GW) of floating offshore wind by 2035. The action will also move California closer to its ambitions of producing up to 5 GW of electricity from offshore wind by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045.

A total of 43 developers—including BP US Offshore Wind, EDF Renewables Development, Equinor Wind, Ørsted North America and TotalEnergies Renewables—qualified to participate in the milestone lease sale. Developers were offered five lease areas spanning nearly 373,270 acres offshore central and northern California.

Only seven bidders were active when the auction started Dec. 6. However, by Round 6, that number had dropped to six. The bidders are undisclosed during the auction.

Day 1 Wrap

Bids for the lease sale started at $100 per acre with initial bids between $6 million and $8 million. BOEM sets the asking price.

By Round 20, only the 80,418-acre OCS-P 0565 area—one of the three offshore central California lease areas—had more than one live bid. Two bidders each pledged $75.3 million for the area, up from the initial asking price of about $8 million and $60.3 million in Round 17.

But it was OCS-P 0564, which also covers 80,418 acres off Central California, that has generated the highest bid of sale so far: $100.3 million with one bidder. That was down from two bidders in Round 15 when the ask was $85.3 million.

Live bids for the remaining for wind lease areas held steady.

  • OCS-P 0561: 63,338 acres offshore northern California, one bid at $62.7 million;
  • OCS-P 0562: 69,031 acres offshore northern California, one bid at $78.8 million and
  • OCS-P 0563: 80,062 acres off central California, one bid at $85 million.

Projects developed in the areas of the Pacific Ocean could power about 5 million homes, according to BOEM.

All of the previous federal wind auctions have been in shallow water in the Atlantic Ocean.

So far this year the U.S. has held two offshore wind auctions, including the New York Bight offshore wind auction for six leases in February that attracted a total of a record-setting $4.4 billion in winning bids from six companies.

Individual bids ranged from $285 million to $1.1 billion.

The other auction—Carolina Long Bay Offshore Wind lease sale for two leases—took place in May and brought in $315 million in total winning bids.