Discussions continue regarding the construction of an offshore wind power plant near the coast of Morro Bay.
Congressman Salud Carbajal hosted the Power in the Pacific: Unleashing offshore wind power for the American Westfield field Audience at the Morro Bay Community Center with members of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Congressman Alan Lowenthal moderated the hearing as Chairman of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee.
“This is obviously an astonishing attempt by federal and state legislation and local governments to move away from fossil fuels and into power generation,” said City Councilman Jeffrey Heller. of Morro Bay. “The wind power option is very exciting, it will obviously have an impact on Morro Bay; some positive and some less positive with respect to the fishing industry and we are concerned about the negative impacts there.
The offshore wind farm in question would be a one-of-a-kind 376 square mile facility just 20 miles from the coast.
“I will say the goal is, once we have hire-purchase later this year, to have these projects in the water by 2030,” said Doug Boren, Pacific regional director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
A lease sale would also include another factory in Humboldt. These are wind projects supported by the Biden administration.
State stakeholders talked about California’s goal of pursuing clean energy and the incentives they plan to offer.
“A recommendation for BOEM to offer the option of a 50% tender credit which would be made up of 20% for the supply chain, 5% to prepare a diverse, skilled and formed in California to deploy floating offshore wind, 10% for community benefits for lease area users, 10% for community agreements with land-based communities, and 5% for environmental monitoring and adaptive management,” said explained Kourtney Vaccaro, California Energy Commissioner.
In attendance were state officials, San Luis Obispo County supervisors, fishermen and the North Chumash Tribal Council. The objective was to listen to the benefits and concerns of wind energy.
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg spoke about the potential for job opportunities and how they plan to collaborate with co-workers.
“We’re just preparing in terms of our institutions Cal Poly, Cuesta College talking about their educational goals right from elementary school,” Ortiz-Legg explained.
REACH Central Coast has shared some of its findings from a report it authored with Cal Poly on the economic impact of the wind farm. The full report will be shared in mid-autumn.
“Up to 650 well-paying jobs for this area, a 4-3 GW wind farm, roughly equivalent to wind power in Morro Bay, and over 2,000 jobs over a five-year period for building the waterfront. infrastructure,” said Josh Boswell, vice president of economic development for Reach Central Coast.
In one of the panels, Vice President of the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization, Jeremiah O’Brien, warned of the impact on the fishing industry as we know it.
“As we lose more areas over time, coupled with the areas we have already lost due to environmental and government restrictions, we will be moving our fishers further and further into a shrinking ocean, which means that there will be a loss of revenue,” O.’ Brien added.
Congressman Carbajal raised the idea of having an advisory committee with stakeholders, so that everyone stays informed at every stage of the progress of this wind project.
An idea supported by Violet Sage Walker, president of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council.
“We continue to need assurance that not only will we advance our protection of marine life and the Chumash National Marine Heritage Sanctuary, but also that wind farm energy and wind farm energy leases and wind farms will partner and support our national marine sanctuary,” Sage-Walker added.
The Ministry of Defense has expressed concerns about national security.
“We want to coordinate while we’re building them because we may be doing activities in the area, and we want to make sure we understand where they are, when they are, so we can coordinate activities with them.” said Ron Tickle, the Department of Defense’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Real Property. “We will be looking, I believe, for reduced hours, which is when we do certain activities that our radars may not be able to support, we will ask for the wind turbines to be stopped.”
Throughout the four-hour hearing, mention was made of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant as a source of clean energy.
“While we’re kind of in transition, this could line up perfectly with another 5 years of Diablo, which could be when we have an offshore site, the turbines spinning and putting electricity on the grid,” said said Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham.
There are still plenty of moving pieces, but those in attendance said it was a good learning opportunity to make sure the local community is involved.
It is important to reveal that Congressman Salud Carbajal is running for re-election in November.