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Nearly 400-square miles of Pacific Ocean off Morro Bay coast to be opened up for wind energy development

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Posted at 1:46 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 01:51:59-04

The government is opening up parts of the West Coast for offshore wind development.

A nearly 400-square mile area off the coast northwest of Morro Bay, as well as a separate area off the coast of Northern California, have reportedly been identified as potential wind energy areas.

The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is expected to open up the areas for commercial leases as early as 2022.

According to the Biden Administration, offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could generate enough energy to power 1.6 million homes.

State officials say efforts will focus on the use of floating offshore wind platforms, most of which would be located 20 to 30 miles offshore. They say the development will occur in a manner that protects fisheries resources, marine life, and tribal and cultural resources.

Congressman Salud Carbajal's 'Offshore Wind Working Group' helped coordinate between federal, state, and local partners to come to an agreement on the size and location of the project. He says this agreement is a win-win, "It addresses climate change and helps us meet with the state of California our renewable energy goal which will be greatly impacted by the closure of Diablo Canyon". Carbajal adds, "We're going to be able to create an energy hub locally for offshore wind to develop good paying jobs to mitigate some of the jobs that will be lost due to the closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant."

Gov. Gavin Newsom says it could help achieve the state's clean energy goals, bolster renewable energy sources, and create new jobs and investments in California.

BOEM is scheduled to hold a task force meeting on June 24 to discuss the proposed wind energy areas off Morro Bay and the Northern California coast. After that, the areas can be finalized and undergo environmental analysis.

In February, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) introduced a bill intended to jumpstart offshore wind projects along the Central Coast. AB 525 would establish the state's commitment to using offshore wind power to meet clean energy goals.

Cunningham called Tuesday's announcement "a historic win for California."

"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. 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," he said.