Posted on August 16, 2023
As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced Tuesday that they’ve identified two draft Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) off the Oregon coast.
BOEM says the draft WEAs cover more than 219-thousand acres offshore southern Oregon, their closest points ranging from 18-32 miles off the coast.
BOEM’s process in identifying the draft WEAs involved outreach to potentially impacted ocean users, Tribes, stakeholders, and the public to, “identify the potential offshore locations that appear most suitable for floating offshore wind energy development and took into consideration possible impacts to local coastal and marine resources and ocean users.”
“As BOEM works to identify potential areas for offshore wind development, we continue to prioritize a robust and transparent process, including ongoing engagement with Tribal governments, agency partners, the fishing community, and other ocean users,” said BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein. “At the request of Oregon’s governor and other state officials, there will be a 60-day public comment period on the draft WEAs and BOEM will hold an intergovernmental task force meeting in addition to public meetings during the comment period. We look forward to working with the state to help us finalize offshore areas that have strong resource potential and the fewest environmental and user conflicts.”
The draft WEAs announced would tap up to 2.6 gigawatts of Oregon’s potential.
Oregon has major opportunities for offshore wind deployment, which will create good-paying jobs and new economic activity. Due to the deep waters off of Oregon’s coast, these areas are also an opportunity to accelerate U.S. leadership in floating technologies.
Senator Ron Wyden responded to BOEM’s announcement:
Clean, renewable energy is critical to stem the worst effects of climate change, like the chronic heat waves and increasing red flag wildfire warnings this week and throughout the year. But it is also critical that development of clean energy projects is done responsibly with every possible opportunity for input from communities.
I have repeatedly urged the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to do a better job of including all Oregonians’ voices while considering the potential for siting wind energy options off the Oregon Coast. Thankfully, this federal agency has listened to my call — along with Senator Merkley and Reps. Bonamici and Hoyle – both to extend the public comment period and hold open public meetings on the draft proposal. This will add multiple opportunities for all Oregonians to make their voices heard in the process and I will continue to watchdog this to ensure that BOEM follows through on its commitment to listen with an open mind and open process.
Back in June of 2022, Wyden, Merkley, Bonamici, and Hoyle voiced concerns that Tribes, coastal communities, and fishing communities had been left out of the initial planning process. In June of 2023 they reiterated that sentiment asking BOEM to solicit input from the public about the draft WEAs to gauge community interest in order to reduce conflict with all ocean users before making substantial development decisions.
The 60-day public comment period starts on August 15, 2023, BOEM says they will hold public meetings to outline data and information used to inform the draft WEAs and to discuss next steps. Meetings will be open to the public, with one designed to engage with the fishing community.
BOEM says they will also convene an Oregon Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting to discuss the draft WEAs and next steps in offshore wind energy planning in Oregon. Additional information on the webinars will be available on the BOEM Oregon state activities page.