Offshore wind auction set for Dec. 6

Map of Morro Bay Wind Energy Area lease areasThe first West Coast sites for commercial offshore wind development — three areas 20 miles off the coast of Morro Bay and two in Humboldt — will be auctioned this year as promised by the Biden Administration.

The big picture: It’s a historic step toward a cleaner energy future and one that presents enormous potential for the Central Coast to be a leader in a fast-emerging industry.

REACH has been working diligently with San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties and the City of Morro Bay to position the region as a launching pad for floating offshore wind — and to capture the jobs and economic benefits. More to come, as we wrap up our joint study of waterfront infrastructure opportunities in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, some toplines on the upcoming auction:

  • 43 entities, both domestic and multinational, qualified to bid
  • Bids for the three Morro Bay lease areas start at over $8 million each
  • The most recent auction, for the New York Bight area, fetched a record $4.37 billion

The fine print: As urged by REACH and others during a congressional field hearing last month, the final lease stipulations expand on incentives for bidders who enter into community benefit agreements to mitigate impacts to ocean users and nearby communities. They also require winning bidders to engage with tribes, underserved communities, the fishing industry, other ocean users and agencies such as the California Coastal Commission.

What happens next: The auction kicks off a lengthy process of site assessment and development plan approval, with the goal of having turbines in the water by 2030. The SLO Tribune includes a breakdown of the timeline.

Learn more:

“After years of collaboration with our local, state, and federal partners, we are now only a few weeks away from proving that the Central Coast is leading the charge on our renewable energy transformation by becoming home to one of the first-ever offshore wind leases on the West Coast. … The proposed sale in Morro Bay will help secure the Central Coast’s dominance as a renewable energy powerhouse, which will attract new businesses and good-paying, future-oriented jobs in a burgeoning sector of the economy.” — Congressman Salud Carbajal