On May 25, the Biden Administration announced an agreement to lease two areas off the coast of California for the development of wind farms. Oregon is also investigating offshore wind in light of the potential benefits it would offer to Oregonians. Those benefits range from the promise of substantial renewable energy and increased electrical grid reliability to new, well-paying jobs and exciting career opportunities for both young and experienced workers. Oregon has a number of advantages over California’s initial offshore wind lease areas. Our offshore areas have more sustained, predictable, high-speed winds. The wind resources offshore of the southern Oregon coast are among the best in the world. Recent studies by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicate that our electrical grid has the capacity to accommodate up to 3 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy with limited upgrades. This is enough to power up to a million homes. We have an experienced, active maritime industry that can support these new offshore energy projects. And, we have world-class marine scientists who have studied our coastal ocean extensively and will be called upon to help us understand and manage the impact of offshore wind farms on our coastal and ocean resources and users.
The Oregon Legislature just passed and sent to the governor for her signature House Bill 3375 that directs the Oregon Department of Energy to study the benefits and challenges of developing 3 GW of offshore wind by 2030. This bill focuses on the opportunity for offshore wind to provide diversified economic development and increased energy resilience and security. Most coastal Oregon residents depend on long distance transmission from generation sites in northern and eastern Oregon as well as electricity imported from other states. In the event of catastrophic events between the coast and the sources of our electricity, the reliability of our coastal power supply may be at risk of long-term disruption.
Harnessing wind power off the Oregon coast will use anchored floating wind platforms to support the turbines. Compared to the fixed bottom-attached wind turbines currently in use around the world, the fact that they float allows them to be located farther from shore beyond the majority of local fisheries and migratory mammal corridors while limiting their visibility for residents and visitors. Floating offshore wind technology is advancing rapidly and the costs are already competitive with natural gas generation. The development of this resource can provide great opportunities for new businesses, substantial funding for community development, and interesting and well-paying jobs.
To learn more about offshore wind and how you can become involved please visit the website for Oregon Coast Energy Alliance Network (OCEAN) at OregonEnergyAlliance.org.