California Coastal Commission Approves Upcoming Offshore Wind Activities

The California Coastal Commission has approved offshore wind activities in Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay that will result from the upcoming lease sale for five areas located in the waters offshore central and northern California.

Illustration; WindFloat Atlantic; Photo: EDP Renewables (archive)

Under its federal consistency review authority, the Coastal Commission evaluated whether the leasing process proposed by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is consistent with the California Coastal Act, including site investigations that those who win at the auction will be conducting as well as the potential future lease development activities, including construction and operation of offshore wind farms.

The Commission held two separate hearings for each of the two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) and conditionally approved the activities for Humboldt Bay in April, with operations in Morro Bay now given the green light as well, also conditionally.

BOEM issued a Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) for potential commercial wind energy development at up to five areas within the two Wind Energy Areas on 31 May, opening a 30-day public comment period which will further inform the agency before it issues a Final Sale Notice (FSN).

According to earlier information, BOEM plans to hold the auction in the fourth quarter of this year.

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This will be the first lease sale organised for areas offshore the US West Coast and the first where the country will award floating wind projects.

In the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off central California, the US Government is proposing to put three lease areas up for auction and two will be offered in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off northern California.

These together cover 373,268 acres and could accommodate 4.5 GW of installed offshore wind capacity, expected to fully come from floating wind technology which is deemed most suitable for the US Pacific Coast.

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