Pacific Coast to Open for Commercial Scale Offshore Wind Energy Projects

Northern and central coasts of California are opening up to commercial scale wind energy projects under a plan announced Tues., May 25 by the Biden Administration.

White House officials said the move to catalyze offshore wind energy is part of the president’s commitment to build new American infrastructure and a clean energy future that creates good paying, union jobs.

The Interior Department, in coordination with the Defense Department, has identified the Morro Bay 399 area to support three gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off of California’s central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay. The two areas would potentially enable development of a significant new domestic clean energy resource for years to come, White House officials said.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland noted that the offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across America while combating the negative effects of climate change.

California Gov, Gavin Newsom said development of offshore wind for clean energy goals and to address climate change could provide renewable energy for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade. Newsom said the plan represents an approach needed for a clean energy economy that protects coasts, fisheries, marine life and tribal and cultural resources.

National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy said that the announcement demonstrates that by taking a whole-of-government approach, the U.S. can smartly develop the nation’s world-class offshore wind energy resources and deploy new technologies that the government has helped to advance while creating thousands of good paying jobs.

However, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations trade group has said that it is concerned about rushing what it calls “unproven technology with unknown impacts to our ocean ecosystem” without any meaningful input by the fishing industry.

“Floating wind turbines have not been deployed in the scale being considered off the California coast. Far too many questions remain unanswered regarding potential impacts to marine life, which is dependent on a healthy ecosystem,” PCFFA Executive Director Mike Conroy. “The fishing industry has been told these areas work best for offshore wind developers, but no one has asked us what areas would work best for us.”

He added that “a comprehensive, upfront, cumulative effects analysis” of potential offshore wind projects should be required.