Biden administration advances offshore wind energy plans in California, North Carolina

wind turbines
Image by Thomas G. from Pixabay

The Biden administration – through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) – is advancing the process to bring offshore wind energy development to California and North Carolina.

BOEM published a request for information from the public for commercial offshore wind in two new areas off central California – identified as the Morro Bay Call Area East and West Extensions. The extensions are adjacent to the Morro Bay Call Area with a combined total area of 399 square miles.

The agency also formally designated the Humboldt Wind Energy Area (WEA) offshore northern California – nearly 207 square miles – and will soon launch an environmental review.

“Today’s announcement builds on an earlier agreement between the White House, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Defense, and the state of California to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said in a statement.

BOEM posted the call for information on the Morro Bay Area East and West Extensions on July 29, initiating a 45-day public comment period that runs until Sept. 13.

JC Sandberg, chief advocacy officer for the American Clean Power Association, said the BOEM action in California is important to reach the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and the state’s goal of 100% carbon-free energy by 2045.

“Leasing the Morro Bay call area could make California a global leader in floating wind projects that will generate investment opportunities across the state, boost manufacturing and create good-paying jobs while helping meet important climate and emissions targets,” Sandberg said.

The NCC in Portland, Oregon, is a state-of-the-art 24×7 generation system control room that acts as the nerve center for our entire U.S. fleet. (Courtesy: Avangrid Renewables)

Last week, BOEM granted approval to prepare an environmental impact study for wind energy development in Kitty Hawk North, 50,000 acres located 27 miles off the coast of North Carolina within the Kitty Hawk WEA.

The entire 122,405-acre Kitty Hawk WEA is expected to support up to 2,500 MW (John, you could also write this as 2.5 GW) of wind generation capacity when fully developed, according to developer Avangrid Renewables. Kitty Hawk North will contribute to offshore wind energy development goals in both North Carolina and Virginia.

“Kitty Hawk North is a game-changer for the mid-Atlantic,” Bill White, head of offshore wind for Avangrid Renewables, said in a statement. “Not only can this project help Virginia and North Carolina meet their vital clean energy goals with cost-effective power, but Kitty Hawk will help a new industry take flight in this region and create thousands of quality jobs.”

Investments in early-development offshore wind projects – like Morro Bay, Humboldt, and Kitty Hawk – now top $2.9 billion, according to a report by the American Clean Power Association.

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