The Biden Administration on Tuesday announced plans to advance the development of offshore wind capacity in the Pacific Ocean as the administration looks to expand U.S. offshore wind capacity to 30 gigawatts by 2030.
The departments of the Interior, Defense and the State of California today announced an agreement identifying initial areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California, which 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, called “the Morro Bay 399 Area”, that will support 3 gigawatts of offshore wind on roughly 399 square miles off California’s central coast region to the northwest of Morro Bay. The Department of the Interior is also advancing the Humboldt Call Area as a potential Wind Energy Area (WEA), located off northern California.
The two areas are expected to be merged in a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for one lease sale auction, targeted for mid-2022.
“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 the 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, according to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). 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.
“Tacking 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, Under Secretary 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.”
California is looking to offshore wind as part of its plan of achieving carbon-free energy by 2045.
“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,” Governor 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.”
Earlier this month, the Biden Administration approved the construction and operation of Vineyard Wind, the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind farm to be located approximately 12 nautical miles offshore Martha’s Vineyard. The Administration is seeking to approve more than a dozen offshore wind projects in the next four years.
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