Carbajal Applauds Scheduling of First-Ever Offshore Wind Lease Sale in the Pacific
Auctions of five lease areas in California, including off the coast of Morro Bay, will be held December 6, 2022
Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal applauded the U.S. Department of the Interior’s announcement that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold an offshore wind energy lease sale on Dec. 6, 2022 for areas off the coast of California including Morro Bay.
BOEM will offer five lease areas in California that total approximately 373,268 acres with the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy: enough to power more than 1.5 million homes while supporting thousands of new jobs.
These will be the first sales of offshore wind leases for sites on the West Coast, and the first-ever U.S. sale to support potential commercial-scale floating offshore wind energy development.
“After years of collaboration with our local, state, and federal partners, we are now only a few weeks away from proving that the Central Coast is leading the charge on our renewable energy transformation by becoming home to one of the first-ever offshore wind leases on the West Coast,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Offshore wind holds incredible promise as a means to tackle climate change, and will serve our environmental, energy, national security, and economic prosperity goals for generations to come. The proposed sale in Morro Bay will help secure the Central Coast’s dominance as a renewable energy powerhouse, which will attract new businesses and good paying, future-oriented jobs in a burgeoning sector of the economy.”
“The demand and momentum to build a clean energy future is undeniable. I am proud of the teams at the Interior Department that are moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the President’s goals to make offshore wind energy, including floating offshore wind energy, a reality for the United States,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “Today, we are taking another step toward unlocking the immense offshore wind energy potential off our nation’s west coast to help combat the effects of climate change while lowering costs for American families and creating good-paying union jobs.”
The area available for offshore wind development in Morro Bay would span 376 square miles, enough to produce 3GW of energy, which represents the largest proposed floating offshore wind project in the United States. A map can be found here.
Last month, BOEM completed its environmental review of the proposed leases in Morro Bay and issued a report saying it found no significant potential impacts on Central Coast ecosystems.
Background on Congressman Carbajal’s Work on Offshore Wind:
Congressman Carbajal has been a champion for offshore wind throughout his time in office.
This offshore wind lease sale is the product of negotiations conducted by Rep. Carbajal’s Offshore Wind Working Group, which was created in August 2019 to coordinate between federal, state, and local partners and is composed of representatives from the offices of Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Navy, and California Energy Commission (CEC).
Negotiations had previously stalled amid hesitation from the Navy, until Rep. Carbajal offered an amendment to the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act in order to move the development forward off of Morro Bay and get negotiations back on track.
Following the amendment’s passage in the House, Carbajal secured a written commitment from the Navy indicating a willingness to collaborate with the Working Group to identify an area for development that would meet energy production goals.
As a result of these efforts and support from other local stakeholders and officials, Rep. Carbajal and Biden Administration leaders unveiled an agreement in May 2021 to allow offshore wind development off the coast of Morro Bay.
The lease sites for this and other areas off the California coast were announced earlier this year.
Last month, Congressman Salud Carbajal hosted members of the House Committee on Natural Resources in Morro Bay to discuss the future of offshore wind projects in California at a field hearing of the Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Offshore wind is one component of a multi-pronged strategy to transform the Central Coast into a renewable energy hub.
The Central Coast is already home to the California Valley Solar Ranch and Morro Bay could soon host the largest energy storage facility in the world. With the addition of an offshore wind project, the Central Coast is positioned to lead the country in renewable energy construction and output.