Biden-Harris administration advances Pacific offshore wind

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Pacific offshore wind development could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million homes. (Courtesy: U.S. Department of the Interior)

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced an agreement to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California.

This significant milestone is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to create thousands of jobs through the deployment of 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

These initial areas for offshore wind development could bring up to 4.6 GW 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 (“the Morro Bay 399 Area“) that will support 3 GW 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 (WEA) off northern California. These identified areas will enable the build out of a significant new domestic clean-energy resource over the next decade or more.

“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. (This) announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” Haaland said. “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. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”

The announcement comes after years of collaboration between the departments of the Interior and Defense to find areas off the central coast of California that are compatible with the Department of Defense’s training and testing operations. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a Call for Information and Nominations for offshore wind on October 19, 2018, for three areas off the central and northern coasts, including Humboldt and Morro Bay.

The Department of Defense engages in significant 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 the operational integrity thereof 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,” Kahl said. “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. Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked tirelessly with the White House, the Department of the Interior, and the State of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development, while ensuring long-term protection for testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness. The Defense Department applauds this step and looks forward to continued coordination to address the climate crisis.”

In addition to contributing to the goals of the Biden-Harris administration, 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 it can make an important contribution to California’s electric grid.

“Developing offshore wind to produce clean, renewable energy could be a game changer to achieving California’s clean energy goals and addressing climate change — all while bolstering the economy and creating new jobs,” 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 June 24 to discuss the identified areas off the north and central coasts as potential WEAs. Following the task force meeting, the WEAs 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 (PSN) for one lease sale auction, targeted for mid-2022.

MORE INFO  www.doi.gov/priorities/clean-energy-future