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The Battle for Wind Power – Literally Up in the Air

Offshore Wind Farms

By unanimous vote, the Port of Newport Commission has passed a resolution addressing concerns about floating offshore wind farms along the Pacific Coastline. This action was recommended by the Port’s Commercial Fishing User Committee. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is accepting public comment on placing as many as 200 wind turbines on two sites offshore of Coos Bay and Brookings. These areas are important commercial fishing grounds for fishing vessels based in Newport and other locations.

The resolution requests increased transparency and better collaboration with commercial fishing interests in identifying, locating, and implementing offshore wind developments. In addition, the resolution requests that any wind areas be located at water depths of 1300 meters or greater to avoid displacing current sustainable fishing activities. The resolution also requests that a moratorium be placed on developing large-scale wind turbine farms until all risks to marine mammals, sea birds, and fisheries are clearly understood, and that all requirements are met. It is suggested that a small demonstration site similar to Pac Wave be first used to test the technology, since floating offshore wind does not currently exist in the United States, and it is unclear whether the technology can withstand the harsher elements of the Pacific Ocean.

Peggy Hawker, City Recorder/Special Projects Director, has drafted a resolution for consideration by the City Council based on the Port of Newport resolution which was approved unanimously by the Port Commission last month, should Council wish to consider a resolution. The draft resolution provides that the Mayor send a letter to the BOEM and to the Ocean Department of Energy (ODOE) highlighting the above-listed recommendations.

Heather Mann, chair of the Port’s Commercial Fishing Users Committee and Executive Director of the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, has asked to address Council on this matter.

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