8/10/21. RCEA’s Stephen Kullmann, who is also a Humboldt Bay Harbor Commissioner, on the afternoon cruise on the Madaket with CEC Commissioner Karen Douglas, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Congressman Jared Huffman, and Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Brenda Mallory, chatting about offshore wind energy.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory Build on a Foundation of Local Energy Resiliency Efforts
August 10, 2021. Plans to bring offshore wind energy to Humboldt County have been picking up speed in recent months after years of local discussions. What started as small meetings in 2018 with local Tribes, fishermen, and environmental groups about the challenges and benefits for our community has blown into being a priority for both the Biden Administration and the State of California. Most of the world is now united by the desire to dodge a global climate crisis and transition to a clean energy future.
On May 25, the Biden Administration announced that it will focus on what would be the first U.S. commercial-scale wind projects off the Pacific Coast, including Humboldt County. Today U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory met with local leaders on Woodley Island to discuss a range of issues, including the need to “build out a clean energy economy and create jobs, including by spurring offshore wind development.”
Humboldt Bay is a good fit for an offshore wind industry for several reasons: there’s an excellent wind resource off our coast, a connection to the grid next to the bay, no bridge in the way of floating the turbines in and out for maintenance, and there’s ample space on the harbor for an industrial port. The Redwood Coast Energy Authority provided $50,000 in funding to the Humboldt Bay Harbor District to help them put together a proposal that will hopefully secure ~$66 million in state and federal funding to redevelop Humboldt’s port infrastructure to be able to support offshore wind development.
Discussions with local fishermen led to a Memo of Understanding in 2018 between RCEA and the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association (HFMA) to work together throughout the development of an offshore wind project. Ken Bates from the HFMA commented that “Wind power proposals on this coast are not new, the HFMA has been engaged since 2018 with wind power advocates and local organizations concerning impacts to fishing and fishing grounds.”
RCEA intends to model how developers should engage communities on projects of this scale. Local Tribes were consulted early on and will remain at the forefront of RCEA’s engagement efforts. Although every Tribe will have their own perspective, Ted Hernandez, the Chairman of the Wiyot Tribe (whose unceded land surrounds Humboldt Bay), recently publicly commented that he supports local offshore wind development.
Most recently, a network of local organizations, governments, Tribes, and individuals have come together under the umbrella of the Humboldt Area Foundation to launch a central entity, the Energy Resiliency Network. As a collaborative, the Energy Resiliency Network is poised to coordinate engagement efforts regarding offshore wind that will include all the diverse values of our North Coast community. Expect to hear more about this in the coming weeks.
Here’s the press release from the Dept. of Interior about their visit. https://www.doi.gov/pressreleases/secretary-haaland-ceq-chair-mallory-highlight-offshore-wind-developments-california