Feds Designate Two Massive Areas for Wind Farm Development Off Oregon Coast

February 13, 2024 by Dan McCue
Feds Designate Two Massive Areas for Wind Farm Development Off Oregon Coast
Image by Claudia Hinz from Pixabay

WASHINGTON— The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Monday announced it has designated two large swaths of sea off the Oregon coast as ripe for wind energy development.

The two areas total roughly 195,012 acres, and according to the agency, “avoid 98% of the areas recommended for exclusion due to their importance as commercial fishing grounds.”

The largest of the two sites, the so-called Brookings Wind Energy Area, is 133,808 acres and located about 18 miles from the Oregon coastline. The second area, the Coos Bay Wind Energy Area is 61,204 acres and located about 32 miles from shore.

On Wednesday BOEM will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intent to prepare an environmental assessment of potential impacts of leasing the two areas for development.

Publication of the notice will kick off an initial 30-day public comment period, with another to follow if the agency decides to move forward with the lease sale.

In conjunction with the federal agency’s actions, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek said Tuesday that the state is “committed to developing a robust and transparent roadmap to inform offshore wind opportunities.”

In addition to ensuring the state, its citizens and businesses reap all the benefits they can from what she called “a significant economic development opportunity for the Oregon coast,” Kotek said the roadmap would guarantee that those communities and tribal nations in the area are consulted throughout the lease and development process.

“Offshore wind is likely to play an important role in meeting our state’s growing energy demand and goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040,” the governor said in a written statement.

“We will ensure that all decisions are transparent and based upon the best available science and knowledge,” she added.

BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said the agency values its close coordination with the state and vowed to also work closely with “all interested stakeholders”as it moves forward with its environmental review.

Prior to designating the two offshore areas for further review, BOEM partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science to assess opportunities for wind energy development and reduce or avoid impacts on other important ocean uses in Oregon. 

Working together, the agencies developed a comprehensive, ecosystem-based ocean planning model that leverages the best available data on natural resources, ocean industries like fisheries and energy production and areas of national security activities, to identify areas with high wind energy resource potential and fewer potential impacts to other ocean users and sensitive environmental resources. 

After garnering as much information as they could through the model, regulators opened a public comment period last August to gather additional information.

The Biden-Harris administration has set a goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030, and 15 GW of floating offshore wind energy capacity by 2035.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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