The Interior Department announced today an agreement to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California that will culminate in the first California offshore wind lease sale in mid-2022. This is part of the Biden administration’s goal to create thousands of jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts (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 gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California's central coast region, northwest of Morro Bay. The Interior department is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area (WEA), located 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. 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. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration's ambitious renewable energy goals.”
Today’s announcement comes after years of collaboration between the departments of 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 Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) issued a Call for Information and Nominations for offshore wind on Oct. 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.
“Tackling 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, undersecretary 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. 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 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 that 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,” California Gov. 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.”
“A successful American offshore wind future has to include California," National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA) President Erik Milito said. "The nation’s most populous state is now on a path towards tapping a generational energy and economic opportunity. Opening the door to development offshore California will prime the Pacific Coast to be another American offshore wind hub and economic driver and will enhance American wind leadership.
“Importantly, Wood Mackenzie previously found that one lease sale offshore California could support 38,100 jobs per year, $3.5 billion in annual wages and $44.2 billion in total capital investment," Milito continued. "As new investments, new technologies, and new Call areas come to fruition, the sky is the limit as to what American offshore wind can achieve.”
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 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.