First Two Offshore Wind Energy Areas Selected Along Oregon Coast – Public Comment Open Now

By Jessica Bernardini

Since HB 3375 was enacted in 2021, Oregon has been focused on identifying key locations for the installation of floating wind turbines off of the coast of Oregon, with the goal of generating approximately three gigawatts of offshore wind energy. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State have subsequently been engaged in offshore wind planning, coordinating with local communities and business and trade organizations along the coast to identify agreeable “Oregon Call Areas,” i.e., locations along the coast appropriate for offshore wind leasing. Within those Call Areas are Wind Energy Areas (WEAs), areas identified as having the greatest potential to generate wind while also being the least impactful to ocean dependent industries and national security concerns.

In August 2023, after years of coordination between the State and Federal entities, BOEM identified two WEAs that would minimize potential impacts to local fishing populations, while being most suitable for maximizing the generation of energy from floating offshore wind. The WEAs represent a subset of the Call Areas that were identified by the Department to the Interior in April 2022. The agencies developed an ecosystem-based ocean planning model to identify areas with high wind energy resource potential and fewer potential impacts to other ocean users and sensitive environmental resources.

In February 2024, BOEM finalized the WEAs by selecting the Coos Bay WEA, which is 61,204 acres and located approximately 32 miles from shore, and the Brookings WEA, which is 133,808 acres and approximately 18 miles off the coast. If fully developed, these WEAs could support 2.4 GW of energy production. BOEM notes that the “areas avoid 98% of the locations recommended for exclusion due to their importance as commercial fishing grounds.”

The February 2024 decision marked the start of a 30-day public comment period by which the public can comment on the scope of the environmental review that BOEM will conduct to assess potential impacts from the offshore wind leasing activities. For additional information, please see the published Notice of Intent for the Environmental Assessment.

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