In news that could affect commercial fishing in Oregon, the state’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in mid-August identified two draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) off the coast of Oregon and opened a 60-day public review and comment period on those WEAs.
The areas were identified as part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035.
The draft WEAs cover about 219,568 acres offshore southern Oregon with their closest points ranging from about 18 to 32 miles off the coast, according to the ocean energy management bureau.
“As BOEM works to identify potential areas for offshore wind development, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including ongoing engagement with Tribal governments, agency partners, the fishing community, and other ocean users,” BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said in a statement announcing the draft WEAs.
In addition to the 60-day public comment period, BOEM plans to hold an intergovernmental task force meeting and public meetings during the comment period, Klein said.
“We look forward to working with the state to help us finalize offshore areas that have strong resource potential and the fewest environmental and user conflicts,” she stated.
The announced draft WEAs would tap up to 2.6 GW of Oregon’s potential, according to BOEM.
To identify the draft WEAs, BOEM said that it used a comprehensive process that involved outreach to potentially impacted stakeholders and ocean users, Tribes, and the public to identify the potential offshore locations that appear most suitable for floating offshore wind energy development and took into consideration possible impacts to local coastal and marine resources and ocean users.
BOEM also said that it collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to use an ocean planning model that seeks to identify and minimize conflicts.
During the 60-day public comment period, which began Aug. 15, BOEM plans to hold public meetings to outline data and information used to inform the draft WEAs and to discuss next steps.
BOEM has also said that it would also convene an Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting to discuss the draft WEAs and next steps in offshore wind energy planning in Oregon. Additional information on the webinars will be available on the BOEM Oregon state activities page.
Those wishing to comment on the draft WEAs are advised to visit regulations.gov and search for docket number BOEM-2023-0033. BOEM is accepting comments through 11:59 pm ET on Oct. 16, 2023.