Congressman Panetta Statement on Agreement on Offshore Wind Project in Morro Bay

May 25, 2021
Press Release
Agreement will help establish Central Coast as renewable energy powerhouse

Today, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) joined Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and the White House in announcing an agreement on the size and scope of leasing to allow for offshore wind development off California’s Central Coast in Morro Bay.  The area available for offshore wind development would span 399 square miles, enough to produce 3GW of energy, which represents the largest proposed floating offshore wind project in the United States.  The project will be located in Northern San Luis Obispo County, outside of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey County. 

“This offshore wind agreement is a significant step in our efforts to address the climate crisis and meet our clean energy goals at the local, state, and national levels,” said Congressman Panetta.  “I commend the Offshore Wind Working Group and its collaboration and coordination with local and federal partners to reach this agreement.  I will continue to ensure that everybody is at the table during this process so that we can continue to make these types of significant investments in clean energy without sacrificing or threatening our local beauty, economy, and wildlife.  I look forward to our continued work together so that we can advance these words to deeds in order fulfill our renewable energy goals and protect what we have here on the Central Coast.”

“After years of negotiations between federal, state, and local partners I am thrilled to announce we have an agreement on the size and location of an offshore wind project that serves our environmental, energy, and national security interests. Offshore wind holds incredible promise as a means to tackle climate change while also creating economic opportunity, and the Central Coast is uniquely poised to reap the benefits,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This potential project will help secure the Central Coast’s dominance as a renewable energy powerhouse, which will attract new businesses and good paying, future-oriented jobs in a burgeoning sector of the economy. The future is in renewable  energy, and the Central Coast is leading the way.  I remain committed to working with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior to make sure the voices of local fishermen and all Central Coast residents are heard as this process moves forward.” 

“I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen.  Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.  “The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change.  Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration's ambitious renewable energy goals.” 

“Tackling the climate crisis is a national security imperative and the Defense Department is proud to have played a role in this important effort,” said Dr. Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy.  “The Defense Department is committed to working across the U.S. government to find solutions that support renewable energy in a manner compatible with important military operations.  Throughout this effort, the Defense Department has worked with the White House, the Department of Interior and the State of California to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while preserving our ability to conduct testing, training and operations critical to our military readiness. The Defense Department supports this effort and looks forward to continued coordination to address the climate crisis.” 

“Developing offshore wind to produce clean, renewable energy could be a game changer to achieving California’s clean energy goals and addressing climate change – all while bolstering the economy and creating new jobs,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “This historic announcement, which could provide clean power for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade, represents the innovative approach we need for a clean energy economy that protects the coasts, fisheries, marine life, and Tribal and cultural resources we value so much as Californians.”  

The agreement, which identifies an area of development approximately 17-40 miles offshore of northern San Luis Obispo County, is the product of negotiations conducted by the Offshore Wind Working Group, of which Congressman Panetta is a member.  The Working Group was created in August 2019 to coordinate between federal, state, and local partners and is composed of Congressman Panetta, Congressman Carbajal (CA-24), and representatives from 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). 

The next phase of the process involves an environmental impact review and public comment period.  Offshore wind is one component of a multi-pronged strategy to transform the Central Coast into a renewable energy hub.  With the addition of an offshore wind project, the Central Coast is positioned to lead the country in renewable energy construction and output.