A wind farm off Morro Bay could create 650 jobs and $ 262 million in annual economic impact on the central coast, and a land port to assemble and maintain wind turbines would be a much bigger economic boost, according to news. study conducted by researchers. by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
The study was commissioned by the Regional Economic Action Coalition, or REACH, and led by a team from Cal Poly led by economics professor Stephen Hamilton. The study looked at potential wind farms between 3 and 7 gigawatts. This type of project seems likely in the Morro Bay area after the federal and state governments announced an agreement on May 25 to license offshore wind turbines 399 square miles offshore.
A 3 gigawatt project would generate 1,098 jobs statewide, including 617 in San Luis Obispo County and 33 in Santa Barbara County. Annual economic output is estimated to be $ 396 million statewide, with $ 254.5 million in San Luis Obispo County and $ 8 million in Santa Barbara County.
The greatest economic benefits of offshore wind would not come from the wind farm itself, but from an onshore port where the turbines are assembled and maintained. If the port is not built on the central coast region and the turbines are imported fully assembled from Asia, the economic impact on the region would be much less.
The construction of a shore port would generate nearly 16,000 jobs and nearly $ 3 billion in total expenditure over five years. About 75% of jobs and 67% of economic output are believed to be in San Luis Obispo County.
“We need to step up our efforts and explore what it would take to ensure these jobs land here in SLO County,” San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg said in a REACH press release. . “We have a long history as an energy producing country, which offers the opportunity to reinvent this heritage as a central pillar of our economy. “
Although turbines can be assembled and maintained elsewhere, it is ideal to do this work near the wind farm, said Walt Musial, head of offshore wind for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, in the REACH statement.
“Proximity matters,” he said. “Port construction, maintenance and repairs must be relatively close to the stopover area to reduce energy costs, reduce emissions and maximize the time that turbines are on the water to generate electricity. “