Statement: Interior Department proposes first offshore California wind lease sales

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—The Department of the Interior has announced the first proposed lease sales for wind power off the shore of California and the United States’ West Coast. The sales would take place in five proposed areas, with two in the Humboldt Wind Energy Area off the north coast of California and three in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area off the state’s central coast. The Interior Department said that the proposed leases would cover about 373,268 acres and could provide more than 4.5 gigawatts of offshore wind electricity generation capacity, “powering more than 1.5 million homes.” 

These projects are part of harnessing California’s abundant offshore wind potential. Environment California Research & Policy Center’s report Offshore Wind for America found that California’s offshore wind technical potential — 391.9 TW-h — is enough to supply more than 1.5 times as much electricity as Californians used in 2019. The same report found that offshore wind could meet 52% of 2050 electricity usage in California, if, as planned, California has a fully electrified economy by then, including transportation, heating and cooling.

In response, Environment California Research & Policy Center State Director Laura Deehan issued the following statement:

“The winds off the Pacific coast are one of the largest untapped renewable energy resources that California has. Today’s exciting announcement about the state’s first ever lease sales is a landmark on California’s road to 100% clean energy and a more reliable grid.”

In response, Environment America Research & Policy Center Senior Director Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy Johanna Neumann issued the following statement:

“The sooner we tap into America’s abundant offshore wind potential, the sooner we’ll have cleaner air and less global warming pollution.These proposed lease sales are great news for California and beyond. We need to utilize every resource at our disposal to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Offshore wind, which is both renewable and easily accessible, provides one of the best climate solutions we could imagine.”