The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed its environmental review of potential impacts from offshore wind energy leasing activities in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA), located 20 miles offshore central California. The Environmental Assessment (EA) reflects close coordination and engagement with the State of California, the Department of Defense, Tribes, ocean users, including the fishing community, and coastal communities.
The final EA assesses potential impacts from the issuance of leases within nearly 240,898 acres (376 square miles) of the Morro Bay WEA off the coast of San Luis Obispo County, Calif. The Morro Bay WEA, if developed, could bring up to 3 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power more than one million homes. Based on the analysis in the EA, BOEM has issued a finding of no significant impacts (FONSI) to environmental resources.
“The completion of our environmental review is an important step forward to advance clean energy development in a responsible manner while promoting economic vitality and well-paying union jobs in central California,” says Amanda Lefton, BOEM’s director. “We will continue to work closely with Tribes, state and federal partners, and key stakeholders to ensure any future development avoids or minimizes potential impacts to the ocean and other ocean users in the region.”
The EA considers potential environmental consequences of site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys). The EA also considers project easements associated with potential leases and related right-of-way grants for subsea cable corridors in the Morro Bay WEA.
If BOEM decides to conduct a lease sale in the Morro Bay WEA, the bureau will develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before approving the construction of any offshore wind energy facility in the Morro Bay WEA. That EIS will analyze the specific environmental consequences associated with the project, in consultation with Tribes, appropriate federal, state and local agencies, and stakeholders and the public.
BOEM initially announced its intent to prepare an EA for the Morro Bay WEA on November 12, 2021. BOEM sought public input on the issues and alternatives to be considered in the EA which can be found on the BOEM website.