Coastal Commission approves Morro Bay offshore wind farms

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The California Coastal Commission has given approval to the federal government’s plan to create wind farms off the coasts of Morro Bay and Humboldt County. [offshorewind.biz]

Last year, the federal Department of the Interior, in coordination with the Department of Defense, identified a 399-square-mile area northwest of Morro Bay as a location that will support three gigawatts of offshore wind. The federal agency also announced it was advancing wind energy projects located offshore of Humboldt County. 

Then in May, the Biden Administration announced plans to auction five offshore areas for wind development, three of which are northwest of Morro Bay and two of which are off of Humboldt County. The Department of the Interior publicized a proposed sale notice for the commercial wind energy leases offshore of Morro Bay and Humboldt County, with proposed auction prices starting at $8 million each.

Last week, the Coastal Commission reviewed whether the leasing process proposed by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is consistent with the California Coastal Act. The commission reviewed BOEM’s plans for regulating site inspections by the auction winners, as well as construction and operation of offshore wind farms.

In separate hearings for the two areas, the Coastal Commission gave approval for both the Central Coast and Northern California projects, with a set of conditions that federal officials must follow.

The auction for the five offshore wind development areas is expected to occur this fall.