Lincoln County discussed offshore wind energy with the Fishermen Involved in Natural Energy (FINE) Committee Wednesday, June 15. The commissioners will vote on a resolution next Wednesday, June 22, that would authorize the county to send the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Oregon Department of Energy, and the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development a letter with recommendations regarding offshore wind energy.
Bob Eder, a commercial fisherman and co-chair of the FINE Committee, addressed the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners and read a letter to be sent to BOEM, who has identified two calling areas off Oregon – Brookings and Coos Bay – for the future siting of wind farms. The letter states that offshore wind development activities are being fast-tracked off the West Coast. The two call areas make up over one million acres of ocean off southern Oregon and include fishing grounds that have been used for generations.
“Hundreds of millions of pounds of Oregon seafood, including pacific whiting, Dungeness crab, Oregon pink shrimp, groundfish and sablefish have all been harvested from the current call areas,” Eder read of the statement. “While BOEM has stated they are looking for wind energy areas that can provide 3 gigawatts of energy in the short term, they have confirmed that they are likely to expand offshore wind development beyond 3 gigawatts into the future.”
The letter states other ports and counties have taken action to protect their economies from the displacement of ocean users. The committee recommends the board passes a resolution that protects current ocean users and the environment itself.
Commissioner Doug Hunt said this is a critical issue and the resolution talks about a process similar to that of the PacWave ocean wave energy testing facility in Newport. Hunt hopes for a collaborative effort on the offshore wind energy sites.
“The industry has come a long way in a relatively short period of time,” Hunt said. “Land that is really not suitable for agricultural activities can be identified for wind farms. I would hope that some of that same process can apply to wind farms in our oceans.”
Part of the request to BOEM includes moving outside of the 1,300 meters.
“[The] 1300 meters is, I believe, outside the western most edge of these call areas,” Eder said. “The vast majority of fishing activity takes place inside of that.”
Eder said the two call areas, Brookings and Coos Bay, are places that fishers use.
Each windmill will be taller than the space needle in Seattle. In their most benign state, they will create a navigational hazard, Eder added.
The commissioners had a draft resolution that will be brought back before the board this week for adoption. It will direct the county to send letter to the three agencies.
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