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Three floating wind turbine sites planned for Oregon coastline, though fishing industry groups are wary

Wind turbine in mist.
Sander Weeteling
Wind turbine in mist.

As part of President Biden’s and Governor Kate Brown’s push to boost alternative energy, floating wind turbines are being explored offshore, including three spots off the Oregon Coast.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is in the planning and analysis stage of developing three sites for wind energy. The specified sites are outside Coos Bay, Bandon, and Brookings, and their collective output would come to 17 gigawatts.

Whitney Hauer (BOEM Pacific) outlines the expected generation of electricty from three turbines along the southern Oregon coast in a BOEM task force meeting today held over Zoom.

Amira Streeter is Governor Brown’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor. At a BOEM task force meeting today, Streeter said the state’s committed to 100% clean electricity by 2040, to fight climate change.

“We are looking to nurture a budding industry, while continuing to value and protect our essential natural resources along Oregon’s outer continental shelf,” said Streeter. “This includes making sure and holding up the communities that rely on these resources and can benefit from a new green economy.”

Some commercial fishing and seafood processing groups have raised concerns over the plan, saying the turbines could disrupt marine habitat or their operations.

Kasthy Munsel/ODFW/Flickr license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
A Dungeness crab, one of many significant catches for Oregon's seafood industry.

“We have concerns primarily about displacement of Oregon fishermen,” Susan Chambers of the Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition told KLCC. “And what that effect will have on processors of course, and local communities.

“We just don’t know to what extent these areas will eliminate fishing grounds for sport or commercial fishermen. We don’t know what effect these giant turbines will have on the ecosystem.”

At its latest task force meeting today, BOEM and state officials assured that a “measured approach” would be taken in developing sites outside Coos Bay, Bandon, and Brookings.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.