What have we on the Central Coast wrought?

May 26, 2023

Floating windmill designs


There are times in our lives that the universe stares us straight in the face and delivers a powerful message, one that if recognized, has the power to elicit a personal existential crisis: a crisis so demanding that everything up to that time seems to be leading us to a place of understanding and is the focal point for action.

It is what I would call a “critical mass” experience. Three days ago, in of all places, Sacramento at the Pacific Offshore Wind Conference, I had such an experience. As I exited the conference building in search of fresh air and a way to mentally process and reconcile what I had been hearing, I looked up to see a powerful sculpture with the words ‘What have we wrought?” written underneath. This simple question shook me to my core.

What have we wrought? Although I so wanted it to be the answer, I now believe the world of offshore wind is one in which just like other big energy enterprises, profit supersedes humanity, and all other living beings are expendable.

Will we continue down the path to this world where big business and governments use an environmental crisis termed “climate change” to dupe the public into accepting an ill-advised, costly, unproven and destructive technology? A world where the term “acceptable mortality” is tossed around without understanding what that mortality represents and its effects on an ecosystem? A world where the wasteful American public cares more about their creature comforts, (having all three tv’s, junior’s play station, countless appliances, and mom’s hair dryer all running at once) and supporting an incredibly wasteful energy industry that is decimating marine species and killing off countless migrating birds?

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to live in such a world and I refuse to condone creating a new energy industry that embraces just such ideals!

Many locals are not aware that offshore wind leases have been signed by three separate companies encompassing 376 square miles 20 miles offshore, in the area between Morro Bay and Cambria. This area is one of the most productive and pristine marine environments in the world. These proposed floating offshore wind facilities could not be located in a more damaging area.

They are smack dab in the middle of both marine mammal and fish migratory paths, and are additionally right on the Pacific flyway, a major avian migratory route.

The damage wrought by citing and operating these huge turbines will be considerable and devastating to already dwindling wildlife populations. We’re talking a footprint the size of the giant stadium, for each of hundreds of turbines with heights of over 1000 feet, almost twice as tall as Morro Rock.

The feds, the state and the numerous energy companies drooling to be part of the windfarm windfall, collectively have not learned from the industry’s past mistakes which include citing power generation facilities in coastal communities where damage to the wildlife has been ongoing for decades, and facilities and grid transmission infrastructure is subject to the extreme damage and costly degradation that a marine environment can wreak.

In 2014, the EPA determined that the cooling systems, called “once through cooling”, used by virtually all coastal power plants, were so damaging to the marine environment that they were banned in favor of newer best available technologies. They determined that no new systems be permitted, citing damage to marine species as their number one justification.

The damage offshore wind will do to the entire water column during construction phases, and the destruction of larger marine species and migrating birds during operation of these floating wind turbines dwarfs the impacts of the old-style coastal facilities. How incredibly shortsighted and anthropocentric of all involved.

Please don’t be a part of the voiceless majority going forward on this issue. I encourage all to be part of this process. Learn about potential impacts to the environment and how this offshore wind industry can change our Central Coast forever. It will industrialize our lovely “Old California” coastal communities and be another “business-as-usual” big energy industry.

There is a webinar on the issue by the California Energy Commission (CEC) on June 8 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Get online and register, but keep in mind that this is by no means a discussion without pro-wind bias. We can use our heads for something besides a hat rack, can we not??

“What have we wrought?” is a question of the past. What I want to know is how can we learn from our mistakes and head into a future where all species are taken into consideration and energy solutions reflect that care and respect.

You have a choice!  You have a voice!

Mandy Davis is a Los Osos resident, who has battled for years to protect our oceans.

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Floating wind turbines make as much sense as a flying tide turbine or underground solar panel.