Guice Offshore, a leading provider of dynamically positioned mini-supply vessels to both traditional and alternative energy markets, noted that the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has initiated regulatory proceedings to advance wind energy development in federal waters off the coast of Northern and Central California.
For wind energy developers awarded offshore land leases for these and similar power projects, Guice Offshore vessels like the GO Liberty, GO Patriot and others typically serve as an equipment and materials transport, floating platform and command center from which surveyors can evaluate the ocean floor for suitability of wind turbine placement corresponding with optimal surface wind flows.
On January 19, 2021, the BOEM filed with the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to prepare one or more Environmental Assessments under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for future commercial wind lease issuance on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of the California counties of Humboldt and San Luis Obispo.
The Notice of Intent publication opens a standard 45-day public comment period during which the BOEM will accept written comments.
Virtual public “scoping” meetings will be announced soon. The scoping process provides the public an opportunity to assist BOEM in determining important resources and issues, impact-producing factors, reasonable alternatives, and potential mitigating measures to be analyzed under the NEPA. Input received during the comment period will be used to inform regulators in their preparation of the NEPA document.
In its announcement of the California wind power development this week, the BOEM advised that, after collaboration with the State of California in extensive data gathering and initial engagement with ocean users, tribes, local communities and the general public, it has identified areas of consideration for potential future commercial wind energy leasing in federal waters off the coast of California located within Call Areas identified in preliminary work on this project accomplished in a 2018 evaluation.
Thus, the designated areas for analysis are called Wind Energy Areas (WEA). Of note, the Humboldt WEA is identical to the Humboldt Call Area and the Morro Bay WEA comprises a portion of the Morro Bay Call Area identified in 2018.
The BOEM indicated that it intends to prepare the NEPA analyses on the WEAs to consider the environmental consequences associated with issuing commercial wind leases, and associated site characterization activities (i.e., biological, archeological, geological, and geophysical surveys and core samples) and site assessment activities (i.e., installation of meteorological buoys) off of California.
Concurrently with its Notice of Intent, the BOEM is also filing a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) for a new commercial leasing area for wind power development on the OCS offshore central California.
Per this Call, BOEM invites the submission of information and nominations for commercial wind leases on areas off the coast of San Luis Obispo County.
These areas are located near but outside the existing Morro Bay Call Area identified in 2018. The Call also opens a 45-day public comment period, and BOEM will use responses to the Call to gauge specific interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in some or all of the Call Areas, as required by law.
Guice Offshore will provide more information on the Notice of Intent and Call once they are published in the Federal Register.
Should you wish to discuss how Guice Offshore can assist you in this or any offshore wind energy development, please call us at (985) 801-4051 or visit our website at GuiceOffshore.com.