On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved several actions related to the development of an offshore wind farm in Humboldt County, including authorizing the County Administrative Officer to execute a $851,500 grant agreement for offshore wind activity.
The other approved items — the supervisors adopted every staff recommendation — included forming two ad hoc committees to work on offshore wind-related issues, enact agreements with the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, the city of Eureka and other local and tribal agencies to collaborate on port and wind development.
Offshore wind in Humboldt County is still in a very early stage, although California North Floating LLC placed the winning bids for the area where turbines would be placed roughly 20 miles off the coast of Eureka. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is still reviewing the bids, but once the leases are granted, the site must be surveyed and a plethora of permits must be issued.
“There’ll be a couple years of site assessments and surveys. After that, the concept of operation plan process will begin,” Scott Adair, Humboldt County’s director of economic development, said. “We are many years away from actual turbines being put into the water.”
The ad hoc committees — 3rd District Supervisor Mike Wilson and 4th District Supervisor Natalie Arroyo were appointed to one committee while 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn and 2nd District Supervisor Michelle Bushnell were appointed to the other — must return with a specific plan for community outreach around offshore wind, including recommendations and partnerships meant to examine opportunities for the workforce and supply chains regarding the turbines off the coast of the Humboldt Bay.
The $851,500 grant County Administrative Officer Elishia Hayes can spend will go toward “workforce analysis and development, supply chain analysis and development, stakeholder analysis and road mapping, business, worker, and staff readiness and education, legal support services and civic outreach,” according to the staff report.
The federal goal for offshore wind is to develop 30 gigawatts by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035.
Public comment on this item, while short, was mixed.
Resident Kent Sawatzky said he did not believe this project would even come to fruition, while Luis Neuner, an advocate with the Environmental Protection Information Center, thanked the supervisors for their work on offshore wind and presented a more optimistic view of its future in Humboldt County.
Bohn noted this would be a good project for Humboldt County if it proceeds, but because it is so early in the process, he remains cautious about it.
“I think I go into it with my eyes not as wide open because there’s so many other pitfalls,” Bohn said. “I pray this happens, I hope like hell this happens.”
The full staff report may be viewed at https://bit.ly/3mSFxBq.
Jackson Guilfoil can be reached at 707-441-0506