Dear Provisional Winners of the Morro Bay Offshore Wind Energy Auction:
As a coalition of Central Coast leaders and organizations, we write to congratulate you on the auction of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area and express our commitment to collaborating to advance the responsible development of offshore wind and close partnership with the Central Coast community.
The Central Coast is uniquely positioned to help pioneer offshore wind on the West Coast and advance state and federal climate goals, building on its long-standing role as an energy powerhouse and environmental leader. With existing transmission capacity and an array of waterfront infrastructure options, a skilled workforce and world-class regional universities and training providers, we are eager to collaborate to support these important efforts for our energy, climate and economic future. We appreciate that the final sale notice highlights the importance of community engagement and includes bidding credits related to workforce development, supply chains, and local communities, and we welcome collaboration to build a strong partnership with the Central Coast’s residents, workforce and businesses.
Central Coast: Ideal Platform for Offshore Wind
The Central Coast has unique geographic proximity and infrastructure opportunities to support the development of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area. As discussions advance, our region is eager to work collaboratively to develop the infrastructure and other supporting facilities to enable the Central Coast to serve as a platform for offshore wind in conjunction with industry, local, state and federal partners.
Transmission: Existing 500-kV transmission lines at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and the Morro Bay Power Plant provide critical integration with the state’s electrical grid, and we are eager to build on this strong foundation to advance offshore wind efforts.
Waterfront infrastructure: Leveraging and building on the Central Coast’s waterfront infrastructure in close proximity to the lease areas will be essential to support initial assessment and later development and maintenance phases of offshore wind farms, while avoiding the significant costs, risks and emissions impacts that would arise from using distant facilities. A study being undertaken by REACH in partnership with the County of San Luis Obispo, the County of Santa Barbara and the City of Morro Bay will provide key research on various infrastructure options across the Central Coast region where targeted investments and upgrades have the potential to develop the necessary waterfront infrastructure to support offshore wind across a spectrum of activities, while ensuring this translates into economic opportunities for the region’s residents.
Supporting Infrastructure: This waterfront and transmission infrastructure is bolstered by an ecosystem of additional facilities that can be leveraged to support offshore wind operations and broader supply chain and innovation activities. For example, Cal Poly’s Technology Park has plans for expansion that could support offshore wind, marine energy, and space for the leaseholder to house for research and development. The region also hosts an array of industrial areas ripe for reuse, manufacturing sites, airports, and other facilities in proximity to the Wind Energy Area.
Regional Workforce and Supply Chains
We invite you to integrate the Central Coast workforce and business community into your workforce development and supply chain investment plans. The Central Coast has a world-class workforce and business community that is ready to get to work in support of the development of offshore wind and related infrastructure. This pool of talent is fed by top-ranked universities and community colleges that coordinate closely with industry, strong K-12 schools and innovative apprenticeship programs. The energy and construction workforce is particularly strong due to the region’s long-standing role as an energy producer and its active real estate sector and is matched with a strong technical talent base supporting specialized manufacturing for a variety of industrial and high-tech applications. Leveraging local businesses and workers in the buildout and operations and maintenance of the offshore wind industry will be important for ensuring equitable economic opportunity.
This highly-skilled workforce powers a dynamic regional economy made up of 34,000 businesses and other organizations including engineering and consulting firms, construction companies, precision manufacturers, maritime and aviation service companies and other suppliers. With a strong ecosystem of local economic developers and chambers, our community is well-positioned to support efforts to identify supply chain partners, facilities and other business needs over the course of the project. As you begin to map out project needs and implement strategies related to the workforce development and supply chain bidding credit, we welcome your partnership and collaboration to maximize the utilization of resources in our region and to ensure the advancement of equitable economic opportunities.
The Central Coast’s educational and training institutions can play a key role in meeting the skills needs of the industry over the coming decades at all levels. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has the best state-funded undergraduate engineering program and the top environmental engineering program in the nation, awarding an average of 4,147 undergraduate and 538 graduate degrees per year. The University of California, Santa Barbara also consistently ranks as one of the top 10 public universities in the country. Collectively there are approximately 7,000 students enrolled in a variety of engineering programs at these institutions. The regional talent pool is also supported by a strong network of community colleges and workforce training providers including Cuesta College, Allan Hancock College, Santa Barbara City College and SLO Partners, which has pioneered modern apprenticeships in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. These institutions can play a key role in proactively planning to meet the skills of the industry over the coming decades at all levels. For instance, the continuing education programs at each of the regional higher education institutions can customize training to meet the needs for offshore wind jobs based on the leasee’s direction. We are also excited about the opportunity to explore partnerships with Cal Poly Humboldt and the California State University Maritime Academy to develop statewide workforce solutions for this emerging sector.
Cutting-Edge Research and Innovation
The Morro Bay Wind Energy Area will be the first and largest commercial scale floating offshore wind project in the United States. Our region is eager to partner to advance the frontiers of this new technology while also assessing and mitigating the environmental, social and other impacts of offshore wind. As a global engineering and environmental research and development leader, we welcome exploring partnerships to advance offshore wind innovation, and ensure that these projects set a model and provide lessons for other offshore wind initiatives in California and worldwide. Our institutions have existing partnerships with state and federal research funders and welcome collaboration to attract further investment to advance innovation in the floating offshore wind sector.
Opportunity for Strong Community Engagement and Partnership
In line with the Final Sale Notice, we are committed to fostering a robust dialogue with the full diversity of community stakeholders to ensure broad awareness and discussion on the development of offshore wind, potential impacts, challenges and opportunities. The community benefit agreement bidding credits outlined in the Final Sale Notice provide an initial platform for broader partnership with the Central Coast community. Projects of this scope and complexity will require thoughtful engagement and trust-building among all stakeholders before and throughout operations, including close engagement with our region’s fishing community and tribal stakeholders. In addition, to inform your community impact assessment, we invite you to leverage recent economic development data, research, and planning work that has been undertaken with input from stakeholders across the region.
Our community has a history of coming together to collaborate, share ideas, and collectively envision a future regarding major changes in our state and federal energy ecosystem. Looking to the future, clean tech innovation and renewable energy is broadly supported on the Central Coast and embraced as part of our region’s economic strategy. We invite you to build on the strong network of community collaboration as you seek to engage with the region to define potential community impacts and mitigation strategies. To the extent possible, we also encourage the three developers working in the Morro Bay Lease Area to coordinate these engagement efforts and benefit strategies to ensure maximum impact and efficiency.
We are committed to responsibly advancing offshore wind on the Central Coast and starting a dialogue to translate conceptual strategies into effective and meaningful community support. We would welcome hosting you on a visit to our region and exploring opportunities for collaboration.
Supervisor Bruce Gibson
County of San Luis Obispo
Assemblymember Gregg Hart
California State Assembly, District 37
Mayor Jeff Lee
City of Grover Beach
Jeffrey D. Armstrong
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D.
Allan Hancock College
City of Arroyo Grande
Luis F. Servin, MPA
Executive Director, Workforce Development
Board, County of Santa Barbara
President & CEO
San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO, Santa Barbara South Coast
Chamber of Commerce
President/CEO, Lompoc Valley
Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau
VP, Community Engagement & Advocacy
Visit SLO CAL
President and CEO
Economic Development Collaborative
Chair of the Board of Supervisors
County of Santa Barbara
Mayor John Headding
City of Morro Bay
Mayor Paula Perotte
City of Goleta
Jill Stearns, Ph.D.
City of San Luis Obispo
City of Santa Maria
Director, Workforce Development Board
County of San Luis Obispo
Erica D. Crawford
Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce
President & CEO
Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce
CEO & President
Atascadero Chamber of Commerce
San Luis Coastal Education Foundation
SLOCOE SLO Partners