The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) today announced its designation of the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore California. The WEA is located approximately 20 miles offshore the central California coastline and contains approximately 240,898 acres (376 square miles).
Designation of the WEA kicks off a process under which BOEM will now prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), as required under the National Environmental Policy Act, to consider potential impacts from site characterization activities (e.g., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys) and site assessment activities (e.g., installation of meteorological buoys) within the WEA. BOEM’s preparation of the WEA will initiate a public comment period along with two virtual public meetings.
BOEM’s Amanda Lefton
“Offshore wind presents a significant opportunity for California and our nation as we transition to clean, renewable energy. Today’s announcement represents significant progress towards that future,” said BOEM Director Amanda Lefton. “As the process continues, BOEM is committed to environmental reviews, which are critical for a strong resource management program, and to robust public engagement.”
BOEM completed its review of a Construction and Operations Plan (COP) for the Vineyard Wind project earlier this year and is currently reviewing ten additional COPs. Moreover, BOEM plans to review at least an additional five COPs by 2025, for a total of at least 16 COP reviews representing more than 19 GW of clean energy.
The 60-day public comment period will begin on November 12, 2021, and will extend through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on January 11, 2022. BOEM will hold two virtual public meetings during this time.
Once BOEM considers all public input, the agency will publish a draft WEA for public review and comment. The analyses contained in the WEA will help BOEM determine whether to move forward with an area(s) for a proposed lease sale.