Today brings a first-time federal auction of wind energy tracts off California’s coast, a sale that will test the scope of industry interest in developing floating projects in deep waters, Ben writes.

Why it matters: Biden officials are keen to open new offshore wind areas even as they review and approve projects along the Atlantic Coast, where the first big U.S. commercial developments are closer to fruition.

Driving the news: The department is auctioning five areas off California’s coast totaling nearly 375,000 acres. The regions could support enough power generation for 1.5 million homes, Interior said.

What we’re watching: Big Oil vs Big Renewables. The list of potential bidders includes power giants as well as the increasingly active renewables arms of oil majors.

  • Dozens of companies have been cleared to participate in today’s bidding, including deep-pocketed players like Ørsted, BP, Shell, EDF, TotalEnergies and more.

What they’re saying: “[E]nticing wind speeds and strong state-level support for offshore wind should foster robust competition among prospective bidders,” S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a recent analysis.

  • But they note the challenge of deepwater projects and rising costs are “expected to keep those bids in check.” NBC News has more.

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