One study, two industries

What do offshore wind and space launch have in common? A need for waterfront infrastructure to support operations.

For offshore wind, it’s the onshore facilities where the turbines are assembled and maintained. For space, it’s barging in the rockets and other launch components that are too large to travel by land.

Another crossover? The desire to grow both industries on the Central Coast. So with unanimous support from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties and the City of Morro Bay, REACH is kicking off a study assessing opportunities to support these industries and create new jobs by enhancing or adding to the region’s waterfront infrastructure.

The big picture: These two industries have the potential to add thousands of good-paying jobs to our economy, as our economic impact studies on offshore wind andVandenberg’s space mission outlined. The study findings will inform decision-making by local, regional, state, federal and industry officials and provide critical data to help the Central Coast compete for funding and investment to unlock economic benefits and job growth.

“With a better understanding of what is and is not feasible, we can start to scope out and seek funding for specific infrastructure projects to attract companies and build out space and offshore wind ecosystems right here,” said Joshua Boswell, Vice President of Policy and Economic Development for REACH.

The fine print: The study, expected to be complete by fall, will assess waterfront infrastructure options including siting and redevelopment/upgrade possibilities, estimated costs and related regulatory and financing/governance issues. REACH will serve as the project manager, bringing on an engineering consultant to lead the technical analysis, with the funding partners serving as a steering committee.

“It’s a regional effort,” Santa Barbara County Supervisor Joan Hartmann told the Tribune. “We’re all working together on this.”

Meanwhile, the federal government has published draft sale notices for the Morro Bay wind energy area in advance of the expected fall lease auction, proposing three lease areas with starting bids of about $8 million each.