SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - A massive offshore wind energy farm off the coast of Morro Bay is closer to becoming a reality. The Biden Administration has agreed to the size, scope and location of the project.
"We are at a major, major accomplishment here," Representative Salud Carbajal told the NewsChannel in a Zoom interview. "We've been working on this for years now."
At 399 square miles, it's the largest proposed floating offshore wind project in the United States. Carbajal says it will be able to produce three Giga Watts of electricity, enough to power about a million homes.
"To move forward offshore wind energy to address our many goals of addressing climate change, bringing about good clean jobs and making sure that we are meeting our renewable energy goals here in the state of California is a big deal," Carbajal said.
The windmills would be 17 to 40 miles off shore in Northern San Luis Obispo County, to the west and north of Morro Bay and Cambria.
"I am extremely excited that the efforts to bring offshore wind energy and jobs to the Central Coast appears to actually be becoming a reality," said Morro Bay Mayor John Headding. "Offshore wind could help California reach its goal of achieving 60 percent production from renewable energy by 2030 and 100 percent renewable and carbon-free electricity by 2045."
California's 35th Assembly District Representative, Jordan Cunningham called the announcement a historic win for California, "that will further cement California as the Clean Energy Capital of the United States."
In a statement, Cunningham said the Central Coast offers two potential tie-in spots to get the power generated offshore onto the electric grid: one at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, and another at the Morro Bay Power Plant. Diablo Canyon, which generates nearly 10% of the state’s energy, is slated to close in 2025.
“For several years, we have worked diligently with federal, local, and state partners to position the Central Coast as the future hub of the Pacific Coast offshore wind industry," Cunningham said. "With today’s announcement, our region has set itself up to reap the major benefits of offshore wind: high-paying jobs for local residents; millions in additional tax revenue for local cities and counties; and more locally-produced clean energy."
In a statement, the Environmental Defense Center said: "While the announcement of updated wind energy areas is an important step towards filling a gap in California's renewable energy infrastructure, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure offshore wind is a net positive for California by also implementing robust environmental protections and carefully analyzing impacts.”
Carbajal said leases could be awarded for companies to build the project out by the middle of 2022. An environmental review and public comment are the next steps. Another area in Northern California off the coast at Humboldt Bay has also been given the green light by the Federal Government to move forward to produce energy from the wind.