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Is Offshore Wind Coming to the Washington Coast?

The answer to that question likely depends on who you ask...but if you've been tuned into the scuttlebutt on the dock lately, you know that a very large proposal is expected to be submitted any day now to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for an unsolicited lease sale for the waters offshore of Grays Harbor County.

From the website of Grays Harbor Wind: "Grays Harbor Wind, a joint venture between EnBW North America and Trident Winds, is exploring the development of a floating offshore wind project in the Quinault Indian Nation's (QIN) treaty-protected US Federal waters off the coast of Washington. The proposed project could provide jobs and long-term economic benefits for tribal and non-tribal communities in the region while helping to combat the impacts of climate change. The QIN are vulnerable to climate change and this project offers an opportunity to be part of the solution and build the new, clean energy economy.

Grays Harbor Wind is in very early stages of exploring the project. The QIN is interested in the potential project and its possible benefits and is proceeding cautiously while gathering input and feedback from tribal members and our neighbors."

More Info at the Upcoming WCMAC Meeting: The Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council (WCMAC) special information session scheduled for September 24, 2021 from 8:30-11:30. This special session will focus on the Nagwia'sup, a proposed offshore wind energy project. Join the meeting via this Zoom link, or if you miss it the meeting will be recorded and posted on the WCMAC website.

The proposed agenda includes:

1.       Representatives from the Quinault Indian Nation to offer input on the proposed project (invited).

2.       Presentation - Nagwia'sup, a proposed offshore wind energy project (Alla Weinstein, CEO, Grays Harbor Wind, WCMAC - Energy Seat).

3.       Presentation – Process for permitting offshore wind energy projects (Douglas Boren, BOEM).

4.       Presentation – Overview of the Washington Marine Spatial Plan (Casey Dennehy, Marine Policy Associate, Dept. of Ecology).

The primary purpose of this meeting is for information dissemination to WCMAC members. It will not be focused on feedback or discussion about the role of WCMAC or a venue for members to share their individual thoughts on the project. A future WCMAC meeting will be scheduled in October for conversation about the project and determining next steps for WCMAC engagement with this project. This meeting will be held on zoom, with all members on mute. The chat box will be the only method for questions or comments from WCMAC members. I will moderate the chat box and ask appropriate questions throughout. This will ensure we are able to complete the agenda as planned.

Proposed site location as listed in PNNL report below.

Surfrider Statement on Renewable Ocean Energy

If you've been involved with Surfrider Foundation in Washington for awhile, you know that this project is not the first renewable ocean energy project that has been proposed. In fact, it was a very large wave energy project proposed offshore of Grays Harbor way back in 2009 that led the State of Washington to initiate a Marine Spatial Planning process in efforts to protect and preserve existing ocean uses and sensitive ecological areas, expecting that future projects like this one would be interested in our ocean space. Around this same time, there were a number of projects up and down the west coast that were being proposed and it led Surfrider to develop a policy statement on Renewable Ocean Energy to help guide our engagement on this emerging issue.

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation advocates for the conservation of coastal and ocean resources and the use of renewable energy sources over fossil fuels;

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation recognizes that technologies that utilize ocean waves, tides, currents and wind as renewable sources of energy may help reduce dependence on fossil fuels and subsequent emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG);

Whereas, renewable ocean energy sources may also provide important economic opportunities  for coastal communities;

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation recognizes that there are many questions and concerns about renewable ocean energy, including potential impacts to ocean recreation, the coastal and ocean environment, public safety, access, and aesthetics;

Whereas, the Surfrider Foundation acknowledges the growing demand for energy worldwide, and that our coasts and ocean are being considered as possible sites for energy generation using renewable technologies;

Whereas, coastal community members and recreational ocean users are affected by renewable ocean development and are key stakeholders in local, regional and national planning efforts;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Surfrider Foundation Board of Directors that:

The Surfrider Foundation will strive to support renewable, low-impact sources of energy. The Foundation will work to ensure that renewable energy development in the marine or coastal environment meets the objectives below and is consistent with our mission.

Specifically, Surfrider Foundation believes the following principles must be applied when evaluating or planning for potential projects:

  • Consider impacts to the environment through comprehensive assessments and application of best available science;
  • Ensure public safety through design standards and development of emergency response plans;
  • Require baseline data and frequent monitoring to quantify impacts to the environment and threats to public safety;
  • Protect ocean recreation opportunities, including surfing, by ensuring that project sites do not negatively impact priority recreational areas;
  • Consider other human uses, including fishing, of proposed project areas to assess potential lost opportunities and evaluate trade-offs;
  • Proceed incrementally and cautiously to ensure that impacts from one project are understood before expanding the size of that project or proceeding with additional projects;
  • Apply regional ocean planning products and guidelines to inform the evaluation of proposed development;
  • Employ adaptive management to ensure that new information is applied to assess needs for modification, mitigation, and/or removal; and
  • Include meaningful community input and ensure transparency in the planning process so that local communities are informed about projects and have an opportunity to provide input.

In short, Surfrider Foundation will evaluate each potential project on a case by case basis, objectively considering potential project impacts, and encouraging informed and constructive participation from the ocean recreation user community. Surfrider Washington Policy Manager Gus Gates serves on the WCMAC as the Ocean Recreation Representative, please feel free to reach out to him with any questions, concerns, or ideas on this issue.

Ways That You Can Get More Information