California Offshore Wind Energy Area Reaches New Milestone
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released the draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the potential impacts from future commercial leasing and related site characterization and assessment activities within the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore California.
The Humboldt WEA is approximately 206 square miles that, if developed, could bring up to 1.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power approximately 560,000 homes.
The draft EA considers potential environmental impacts and socioeconomic effects from issuing offshore wind energy leases and related site characterization and assessment activities within the Humboldt WEA.
Site characterization activities include geophysical, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys needed to develop specific project proposals on those leases. Site assessment activities could include the installation and operation of meteorological buoys in support of leases that may be issued.
”BOEM is requesting public comments on the adequacy of our environmental analysis and of the measures designed to avoid or reduce potential environmental impacts,” said BOEM’s Pacific Office regional director Doug Boren.
”BOEM will consider such comments before determining whether to issue a finding of no significant impact or to conduct additional analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act.”
Before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility on a potential future lease in the Humboldt WEA, BOEM will develop an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze the specific environmental consequences of constructing and operating such a facility, in consultation with Tribes and appropriate federal, state, and local agencies, and with participation by stakeholders and the public.
BOEM is also requesting public comments related to potential impacts to historic properties from commercial leasing and site characterization and assessment activities in the Humboldt WEA. This is part of BOEM’s National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 Programmatic Agreement with the State of California covering wind energy development offshore that state.
The announcement initiates a 30-day public review and comment period on the draft EA, which will end on 10 February.
To facilitate public input, BOEM will host two virtual meetings. The first meeting will be held on 25 January 25, and the second meeting will be held on 26 January.
The boundary of the Humboldt WEA begins at 21 miles (34 km) offshore the city of Eureka in northern California. The area is about 28 miles (45 km) in length from north to south and about 14 miles (23 km) in width from east to west.