By the Office of Rep. Salud Carbajal
[On Wednesday], Congressman Salud Carbajal applauded the conclusion of an auction to sell three leases off the coast of Morro Bay to become the West Coast’s first offshore wind energy sites.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management held the sale today for approximately 373,268 acres off the coasts of Northern and Central California with the potential to produce over 4.5 GW of offshore wind energy: enough to power more than 1.5 million homes while supporting thousands of new jobs.
The leases were sold at auction for a total of $757.1 million. The three Morro Bay leases totaled $425.6 million. More information on the winners of the five leases can be found here.
“For years, supporters of clean wind energy projects like myself have touted offshore wind not only as a tool to tackle climate change, but also as a way to boost economic growth and job creation for our region. This week’s auction, which drew three quarters of a billion dollars in interest from the private sector, proves that wind can and will be an economic powerhouse for the Central Coast,” said Congressman Salud Carbajal. “These leases off Morro Bay will help secure the Central Coast’s dominance as a renewable energy hub for years to come—attracting new businesses and creating good-paying jobs—and I look forward to working with the lease purchasers, as well as local, state, and federal partners, to make these offshore wind projects a reality in the years ahead.”
The area made available for offshore wind development in Morro Bay spans 376 square miles, enough to produce 3GW of energy, which represents the largest proposed floating offshore wind project in the United States. A map can be found here.
Earlier this year, BOEM completed its environmental review of the proposed leases in Morro Bay and issued a report saying it found no significant potential impacts on Central Coast ecosystems.
Background on Congressman Carbajal’s Work on Offshore Wind:
Congressman Carbajal has been a champion for offshore wind throughout his time in office.
This offshore wind lease sale is the product of negotiations conducted by Rep. Carbajal’s Offshore Wind Working Group, which was created in August 2019 to coordinate between federal, state, and local partners and is composed of representatives from the offices of
Rep. Carbajal and Rep. Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of the Navy, and California Energy Commission (CEC).
Negotiations had previously stalled amid hesitation from the Navy, until Rep. Carbajal offered an amendment to the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act in order to move the development forward off of Morro Bay and get negotiations back on track.
Following the amendment’s passage in the House, Carbajal secured a written commitment from the Navy indicating a willingness to collaborate with the Working Group to identify an area for development that would meet energy production goals.
As a result of these efforts and support from other local stakeholders and officials, Rep. Carbajal and Biden Administration leaders unveiled an agreement in May 2021 to allow offshore wind development off the coast of Morro Bay.
The lease sites for this and other areas off the California coast were announced earlier this year.
Earlier this year, Congressman Salud Carbajal hosted members of the House Committee on Natural Resources in Morro Bay to discuss the future of offshore wind projects in California at a field hearing of the Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
Offshore wind is one component of a multi-pronged strategy to transform the Central Coast into a renewable energy hub.
The Central Coast is already home to the California Valley Solar Ranch and Morro Bay could soon host the largest energy storage facility in the world. With the addition of an offshore wind project, the Central Coast is positioned to lead the country in renewable energy construction and output.
Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and part of Ventura County. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee, Agriculture Committee, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he serves as the Chair of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.