The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced last week the designation of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore California. The WEA is located approximately 20 miles offshore the central California coastline and contains approximately 240,898 acres (376 square miles).
BOEM will now prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), as required under the National Environmental Policy Act, to consider potential impacts from site characterization activities (e.g., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys) and site assessment activities (e.g., installation of meteorological buoys) within the WEA. BOEM’s preparation of the EA will initiate a public comment period along with two virtual public meetings.
“Offshore wind presents a significant opportunity for California and our nation as we transition to clean, renewable energy. Today’s announcement represents significant progress towards that future,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said in a statement. “As the process continues, BOEM is committed to environmental reviews, which are critical for a strong resource management program, and to robust public engagement.”
BOEM completed its review of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the Vineyard Wind project earlier this year and is currently reviewing 10 additional COPs. Moreover, BOEM plans to review at least an additional five COPs by 2025, for a total of at least 16 COP reviews representing more than 19 GW of clean energy.
The 60-day public comment period began on Nov. 12 and will extend through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Jan. 11, 2022. BOEM will hold two virtual public meetings during this time.
Once BOEM considers all public input, the agency will publish a draft EA for public review and comment. The analyses contained in the EA will help BOEM determine whether to move forward with an area(s) for a proposed lease sale.
Additional information on the Morro Bay WEA, public meetings and how to comment can be found on the BOEM’s website at www.boem.gov/MorroBayEA.
The goal of BOEM’s WEA identification process is to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development, taking into consideration potential impacts to resources and ocean users.
The Morro Bay WEA was designated after extensive collaboration with other federal agencies and the state of California as well as engagement with ocean users, Tribes, local communities, and the public, BOEM said. It includes portions of the area initially analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations published on Oct. 19, 2018, and two extensions analyzed in BOEM’s Call for Information and Nominations published on July 29, 2021.