Eureka, Calif. (KIEM)- Within the next ten years, wind turbines could produce renewable energy for Humboldt county. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducted an environmental assessment of the wind energy area within Humboldt bay and found no significant impacts. Auctioning the area to developers is the next step and is said to be happening soon.
Humboldt bay is said to be the perfect spot to house wind turbines and produce renewable energy, but many concerns come with bringing a new industry into our community, as well as the construction of those large steel structures that would sit in the bay.
For more information on the project, we talked to Tom Wheeler, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC). Wheeler explained to us that Humboldt County’s economic history has been rocky.
“Humboldt County has been one of resource extraction where outside developers, outside companies have come into our area and have extracted our wealth, whether it’s gold, whether it’s fish, whether it’s timber, whether it’s cannabis. And a lot of that wealth has left our communities.”
Wheeler goes on to say that in pursuing the development of offshore wind energy, the community would like to see a different result and hopefully more longevity to the industry’s initial economic burst. Along with the economic concern, the environmental effects of the project are another question on people’s minds.
“We know that there are many marine mammals, whales that use the area. We know that birds also fly through the wind energy area. Frankly, we don’t know how wind energy is going to impact a lot of these species,” said Wheeler. “There is a cost to not doing a project as well. And I think that we need to keep that in mind because there are going to be impacts to wildlife from climate change if we don’t take meaningful action to address the climate crisis, too.”
While the project’s completion is still far in the future, progress and preparation are continually being made. The Humboldt Bay Harbor District is starting to plan for the construction of a port that will allow the installation of wind turbines.
Larry Oetker, the Executive Director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor District talked to us about the plans for construction and the jobs the project will provide.
“We’re looking to build a new heavy-lift terminal so that the offshore wind towers can be constructed in Humboldt Bay,” said Oetker. “What we’ve projected is that we won’t just see the jobs for the very first offshore wind (project). What we’re seeing is jobs continuing through at least 2045 for the deployment and construction of these offshore wind towers.”