CALIFORNIA: Wind Farms Off U.S. Pacific Coast Poised for Permitting

SACRAMENTO, California, May 26, 2021 (ENS) – The federal departments of the Interior and Defense and the State of California have agreed to accelerate wind energy development offshore the central and northern coasts of California. The deal advances the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of creating thousands of jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, and California Governor Gavin Newsom Tuesday announced the agreement, estimating that the initial areas designated for offshore wind development could bring up to 4.6 gigawatts of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million homes.

The Department of the Interior, in cooperation with the Department of Defense and the State of California, has identified an area, known as “the Morro Bay 399 Area,” that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay.

The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area located off northern California. These identified areas will enable the building of a new domestic clean energy resource over the next decade or more, federal officials say.

“I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen. Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

“The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change.”

The announcement comes after years of collaboration between the departments of the Interior and Defense to find areas offshore the central coast of California that are compatible with the Department of Defense’s training and testing operations.

The Department of Defense engages in testing, training and operations off the coast of California that are essential to national security.

The Department of the Interior acknowledges the critical nature of current and future military testing, training and operations and acknowledges that ensuring its operational integrity is a national security imperative.

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will work with the Department of Defense to ensure long-term protection of military testing, training and operations, while pursuing new domestic clean energy resources.

“Tacking the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort,” said Dr. Colin Kahl, under secretary of defense for policy. “The Defense Department is committed to working across the U.S. government to find solutions that support renewable energy in a manner compatible with essential military operations.”

The development of offshore wind can help California reach its goal of carbon free energy by 2045, create good-paying, union jobs, and foster investments in coastal communities.

Offshore wind resources are typically stronger and more consistent than land-based wind and is especially strong in the evening hours when solar production drops off, ensuring that wind can make a contribution to California’s electric grid.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said, “This historic announcement, which could provide clean power for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade, represents the innovative approach we need for a clean energy economy that protects the coasts, fisheries, marine life, and Tribal and cultural resources we value so much as Californians.”

BOEM, in partnership with California, will hold an Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on June 24 to discuss the identified areas off the north and central coasts as potential Wind Energy Areas.

Following the task force meeting, the Wind Energy Areas can be finalized and will undergo environmental analysis. BOEM will also undertake government-to-government tribal consultation.

The processes for the northern and central coasts will then be merged in a Proposed Sale Notice for one lease sale auction, targeted for mid-2022.

Featured image: California’s Morro Bay at sunset, August 4, 2015 (Photo by Fred Moore)

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