CA - Will legislation squelch local input on industrializing Port San Luis?
Plans to transform Port San Luis in rural Avila Beach into an industrial port to support the offshore wind industry could move forward without local review if a bill winding through the legislation is passed.
In Dec. 2022, an auction for three offshore wind energy sites located off the coast near Morro Bay netted over $400 million. The wind turbines will float in the ocean more than 20 miles off the coast, with the electricity sent ashore via cables along the ocean floor.
The goal is to have the windmills in the water by 2030.
Multiple researchers worked together to identify preferred locations for maintenance facilities, which include Port San Luis, Morro Bay, Diablo Canyon and Vandenberg Space Force Base, according to a study released by REACH in Dec. 2022. It is likely one or more of these locations will be transformed into industrial ports where the windmills will be assembled and maintained.
SB 286, which “directs the Coastal Commission to conduct a consolidated permit for any development associated with offshore wind energy generation and transmission,” is currently being fast-tracked through the legislature.
Critics have argued that consolidated permits remove local authority and have a chilling effect on the public’s right to participate.
Generally, coastal permits are vetted at the local level through community development departments or planning departments of the cities and counties approving the projects.
Industrialization of the proposed Central Coast ports will have significant impacts on the local economy and its ocean-dependent ecosystems. The support systems on land will include massive piers, and could require new breakwaters and dredging.
The offshore windmills themselves are 1,000 feet tall, taller than the Golden Gate Bridge, and their platforms are the size of a baseball field.