Help us save Morro Bay and Port San Luis

January 11, 2024


The Morro Bay wind farm project is moving forward at a rapid pace regardless of the numerous negative impacts this will have on the marine life and our communities. Port San Luis is being considered as a location to serve as a base for the construction and maintenance of hundreds of 1,000 foot tall wind turbines which would require a massive alteration project drastically changing the Port’s current primary mission from “serving the public with an array of commercial and recreational fishing and boating opportunities while ensuring an environmentally responsible, safe, sustainable harbor that preserves our marine heritage and character” to the plan for a larger, industrialized port with a mission to serve large ships, cranes and other related equipment.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of people who live in the Avila Beach – Port San Luis area and those who use the port for fishing, boating, and camping are not happy about this.

The first stage of the development of the wind farm project, the site surveys will begin soon within the coming year. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) whose mission is to “Manage development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way,” and the California Coastal Commission which  is, “Committed to protecting and enhancing California’s coast and ocean for present and future generations through careful planning and regulation of environmentally-sustainable development, rigorous use of science, strong public participation, education, and effective intergovernmental coordination” have green-lighted the developers to proceed with this process regardless of numerous well documented, adverse and sometimes deadly affects this activity will have on the marine environment.

The site surveys require the use of high resolution sonar equipment using up to and above 228 decibels to analyze the ocean floor. This procedure alone has shown to have drastic effects on various marine life. The threshold for hearing damage, masking, and stress reactions for many fish is 120 decibels.  Salmon can die at 219 decibels, other fish including rock fish can die at 207 decibels, and there is significant mortality to zooplankton populations as well.

The site surveys will take place where the wind turbines will be located which is right in the middle of a major migratory path for numerous whale species, salmon, tuna and many other other migratory fish and marine birds. This area is one of the most unique and biodiverse marine areas in the world.

The site survey also includes the area in front Diablo Canyon where a main power cable will run from the wind turbine area to the power plant.

It should be pointed out that since the beginning of site surveys that began in Dec. 2022 for offshore wind projects off the coast of New Jersey, 83 large whale deaths and 369 small cetacean (whales, dolphins and porpoises) stranding have occurred. Up 164% from the prior year.

Lawmakers, local officials, fishing industry associations and wildlife groups along the Atlantic Coast have called for an offshore wind development moratorium amid an uptick in marine mammal deaths. The project developers and BOEM claim these deaths are not the result of any wind farm activity but are the result of ship strikes and/or climate change however the evidence does not support this. There has not been such an increase of this magnitude elsewhere where wind farm activity is not present. Regardless BOEM has chosen to move full steam ahead.

The final environmental assessment dated Oct. 2022 and conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for this project declared any negative impact to marine life and birds related to the development of the wind farm to be negligible even though there is considerable evidence to the contrary that brings into question the accuracy of BOEM’s assessment. Common sense would suggest that placing these kind of structures in the middle of a primary migratory route would be problematic alone. And the effects the equipment used during the site survey’s on marine life is certainly more than just negligible.

In 2012, the California Coastal Commission denied a similar permit for PG&E  to use sonar for testing at 230 to 252 decibels. Their report stated, “The project would also adversely affect Marine Protected Areas, fish and other invertebrates, involving both physiological impacts as well as economic impacts to commercial and recreational fishing by precluding fishing and potentially affecting fish behavior and biology.”

The Coastal Commission also previously denied a permit to the Navy, who wanted to conduct sonar testing at 154 decibels.

The Morro Bay project which consists of a 376 square mile area 20 miles off the coast between Morro Bay and Cambria is just the first of many more planned wind farms all along the California coastline. This is not a not in my backyard thing. This is a not in anybody’s backyard thing.

Of all the possible ways available to produce electricity, wind farms are definitely the most inefficient and costly. Consider the tremendous amount of land and ocean space required for wind turbines and battery plants to achieve the goals set forth to produce the same amount of electricity we are already producing using more reliable methods on a fraction of the space.

As if the harm from wind energy to the environment is not bad enough consider the economic and financial affects. Wind and solar energy projects rely entirely on subsidies and tax credits. The federal government estimates the subsidies alone for these projects over the next 20 years will total over $3 trillion. Production tax credits for wind generation will add hundreds of billions more. All this money will be financed by both state and federal government with additional debt and the resulting interest payments adding trillions of dollars more.

Many people don’t care how much debt our government takes on because they don’t understand the consequences. The fact is the consequences are catastrophic. We all will be paying for this through increased energy fees and taxes for years.

In the case for wind energy the extreme negative impact to the environment along with the high cost far exceed any benefit. This ambitious plan to cover our oceans and earth with wind turbines defies logic.

In addition, wind farm energy is not emission free. Most of the factories that build the turbines are located in China and are not emission free. And the equipment used to install and maintain the turbines is not emission free. BOEM estimates air emissions from the operations and maintenance of the wind farm to be as much as 38,038 tons per year. Emissions from the construction will add another 325,255 tons of emissions.

All forms of renewable energy including wind energy are are not reliable since they depend on another source of energy that is not always present. As my friend Wade Allison, Professor of Physics at Oxford University in the United Kingdom so eloquently stated, “The generation of electricity by wind tells a disappointing story. The political enthusiasm and the investor hype are not supported by the evidence, even for offshore wind, which can be deployed out of sight of the infamous My Back Yard.”

The actual physical science of converting wind to electricity shows it to be very inefficient, thus requiring a large number of turbines to produce the required amount of electricity. Also there would need to be batteries to store the electricity needed when the turbines are not producing which is a major problem since the technology to store that much electricity does not exist and according to Professor Allison is not possible. But even if it was the result would be enormously large areas of land and ocean covered with wind turbines, solar panels, and battery plants that still would not  produce enough electricity to meet our needs. So we will always need more reliable methods to be available.

Nuclear energy is emission free and natural gas is a relatively clean burning. These forms of producing electricity are efficient, affordable, and require very little space.

There have been great improvements in both nuclear and natural gas power plants over the past 30 plus years and will be continually improved upon. Small nuclear reactors can be built quicker, cheaper, and safer than before and do not need to be located on the coastlines. And with the advancement of carbon capture technology natural gas power plants can and will be virtually emission free. There has been major advancements made in reducing emissions in all fuel powered motors for cars, trucks, boats, and equipment.

The plan to eliminate the use of fossil fuel and cover the planet with wind farms and solar panels is simply not practicable nor is it necessary. You really have to ask yourself what is really going on here.

My hope is that the California Coastal Commission does their job and re-examines the BOEM environmental analysis and denies the site survey permits. But if that does not happen, we must do whatever we can to stop this.

We, the citizens need to be informed, involved and make our opinions about wind energy known to those that have been given the authority to make decisions that affect us and our communities. Most of these commissions and boards are occupied by non-elected people who are appointed by elected officials such as the governor and various state and federal representatives.

Most of our local elected officials are very supportive of this offshore wind project and the agencies in charge of protecting our natural resources like the California Coastal Commission, California State Lands Commission, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, National Marine Fisheries Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are all following suite and approving every facet of this project regardless of the obvious negative impacts.

It appears that BOEM as well as the other agencies involved that are supposed to be representing us the people in protecting our oceans and coastlines are instead representing and working for the wind developer companies.

All of these agencies are required to allow public comment before decisions are made. There are opportunities now and going forward for our voices to be heard regarding this wind farm project. We must speak up now!

React Alliance a local organization established to educate and inform the public about the issues involved with this project and offshore wind in general has a website that is a good place to start. Check out the events and meetings page for information on the latest meetings and forums that everyone can attend and/or make or post comments.

Here is the link for a BOEM meeting event that people can access now and make comments. Comments must be submitted by 8:59 p.m. on Feb. 20.

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As a conservative it is hard for me to understand where all that silly, uniformed bias against the push for more sustainable electricity comes from. No, i don’t believe CO2 causes global warming. But i know that burning oil and gas to generate electricity is INSANE. If you have ever driven a modern EV and charged it for free with Solar panels on your roof, you know how ridiculous your Gas or Diesel powered car is. And yes i voted for Trump, even he supported the push for renewables. Hint to all of you, oil, coal and gas will run out, get used to it. The electricity you are using has to come from somewhere. No, Nuclear is not an option until we figured out where to store the waste. And yes Diablo Canyon should stay online as long as possible, however i would prefer its not PG&E running it. THIS WINDFARM IS A GOOD THING.

It’s interesting to see so many comments that show clearly almost everyone only read the headline. ::sigh::

Blocking offshore windfarms is something that both sides of the political aisle should agree on.

Liberals should shut this down for the same reasons they scream about county property development — viewshed and environment. Unfortunately, for the windfarm abomination, they’re conflicted by the religion of climate change

Conservatives should be happy to oppose, just to poke a finger in the chest of the climate change mafia and government subsidized renewable mandates.

If you’ve taken a drive through the broad mid-west U.S. wind corridor recently, you’ll see how these monstrosities permanently alter the landscape – not pretty.

IDEA: Why don’t both sides get together and require passive solar on the roof of every warehouse in California? Would satisfy liberal’s environmental leanings as well as provide a source of income for the dirty property developer conservatives.

Win-Win. Easy.

I suspect the 2 year in progress operation of altering the Port San Luis breakwater is in reality funded and planned to clear the decks to rapidly accommodate the wind farm infrastructure that has already been approved ( and certain palms greased) for its rapid construction

I can remember when the conservatives of SLO county were all hot for an expansion of the refinery on the mesa because it would create like a 100 jobs or something. This sounds like a much larger project that would employ a lot more and bring a much needed energy source and a big boost to our economy without the threat of exploding oil trains. If we are worried about aesthetics, let’s start by tearing down those ugly smoke stacks.

TheLittleDog has a sharp bite. Just down votes, but no response to the absolute truth.

With $100’s of millions spent by the three developers, power purchase agreements set up and the Governor’s love of the project, the Blades of this debacle are already spinning. Of interest, the assembly of the units will likely be out of the Port of Long Beach, meaning little investment in SLO county, instead of economic benefit we just get the negative environmental impacts.

What is shameful is the Board of Supervisors’ lack of leadership here. First they like wind energy, then they don’t, and now they’re just not sure. They are rudderless and feckless. They stand for nothing except their political hides. Is it any wonder nothing ever changes here except an influx of homeless, who thrive in absence of political leadership.