Carbajal Announces Agreement on Offshore Wind Project in Morro Bay
Major Milestone Will Help Establish Central Coast as Renewable Energy Powerhouse
Santa Barbara, CA , May 25, 2021
Santa Barbara, CA – Rep. Carbajal today joined the White House in announcing an agreement on the size and scope of leasing to allow for offshore wind development off the coast of Morro Bay. The area available for offshore wind development would span 399 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.
“After years of negotiations between federal, state, and local partners I am thrilled to announce we have an agreement on the size and location of an offshore wind project that serves our environmental, energy, and national security interests. Offshore wind holds incredible promise as a means to tackle climate change while also creating economic opportunity, and the Central Coast is uniquely poised to reap the benefits,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This potential project 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 future is in renewable energy, and the Central Coast is leading the way.”
The agreement, which identifies an area of development approximately 17-40 miles offshore of northern San Luis Obispo County, is the product of negotiations conducted by Rep. Carbajal’s Offshore Wind Working Group. The Working Group 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, 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.
The next phase of the process involves an environmental impact review and public comment period.
“I remain committed to working with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior to make sure the voices of local fishermen and all Central Coast residents are heard as this process moves forward,” said Rep. Carbajal.
“We applaud the Congressman’s leadership in brokering this opportunity to bring new forms of renewable energy and local jobs to the Central Coast region, cementing our role as a renewable energy innovation economy and pioneers of offshore wind on the west coast,” said Andrew Hackleman, Chief Operating Officer of REACH. “By bringing a minimum of 3GW of new energy development off the Central Coast, we have the potential to realize thousands of new jobs and multimillions in economic impact to our region by supplying the infrastructure and workforce to advance this burgeoning new industry all while helping the state and federal government meet their ambitious renewable energy goals.”
“This offshore wind agreement is a significant step in our efforts to address the climate crisis and offers ample opportunity to move the Central Coast and California towards its clean energy goals,” said Congressman Panetta. “I commend my colleague Congressman Carbajal and our Offshore Wind Working Group for the work done with local and federal partners to help reach this agreement. This action shows that we can make bold, green investments without sacrificing our local beauty or threatening wildlife, and I look forward to the growth that is ahead as the Central Coast stakes its claim as a renewable energy champion.”
"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. 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. Existing transmission infrastructure on the Central Coast is currently available to reliably deliver the output of both the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and the retired Morro bay Power plant,” said Morro Bay Mayor John Headding. “Offshore wind from the Central Coast is an opportunity for a source of clean energy in proximity to existing transmission infrastructure and energy consumers. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Congressman Carbajal and the Offshore Wind Working Group there now appears to be a pathway forward for the actual development of windfarms off of the Coast of Morro Bay."
“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.”
“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, 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 important military operations. Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked with the White House, the Department of Interior and the State of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while preserving our ability to conduct testing, training and operations critical to our military readiness. The Defense Department supports this effort and looks forward to continued coordination to address the climate crisis.”
“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 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.”
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 battery plant 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.
This transition toward renewable energy is vitally important as the Central Coast prepares for the job and energy losses that will follow the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant’s impending closure. Last year, Rep. Carbajal reintroduced the Energy Opportunity Zones Act which utilizes tax credits to encourage business growth and job creation in the renewable energy sector to offset those losses.
More information on the announcement is available here. Photos of Congressman Carbajal at the Morro Bay Coast Guard station are available here. Photos of Rep. Carbajal at a press conference in Port San Luis announcing the Energy Opportunity Zones Act are available here.
Rep. Salud Carbajal is the founder of the Offshore Wind Working Group and serves as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Offshore Wind Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers dedicated to strengthening America’s clean energy leadership. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Rep. Carbajal’s district encompasses Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and part of Ventura County.