Chris Pavan, Chris Pavone, Morro Bay discussed on Greater LA
They're about to get a much taller neighbor wind turbines. These things are his biggest skyscrapers. You're not going to drive your 21 ft boat through there and go catch rockfish. Are you out of your mind? Chris Pavan has been fishing in this area for seven years, along with his wife and five kids. He's worried about what's on track to become the first offshore wind farm on the West Coast approved by the Biden administration. The project will bring roughly 200 floating turbines into the open ocean near Morro Bay. It's a huge leap toward California's goal of 100% Clean electric power by the year 2045. Though it's got local fishermen worried about their livelihood. This wind farm is coming, whether they like it or not, so How can these two industries coexist out at sea? Here's KCRW's Catherine Barnes. Stroll down the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, and you'll see restaurants like the Dutchman's seafood house, Giovanni's fish market and grassy bar oyster company. And if you're lucky, you'll get to meet one of the fishermen who brought that seafood ashore. Like Chris Pavone, who you just heard from. I've been surfing in spearfishing, California my whole life, So I love the ocean. Everything about it. I don't never want to be away from it. He's among roughly 120 fishermen who trapped troll and drop lines off Morro Bay and Avalon Beach. He's used to having the ocean more or less to himself. But soon he'll have to contend with these turbines. They'll be tall, taller than the Seattle space Needle and visible kinda. They won't be in your face like the ones you've seen off the highway near Joshua Tree. 17 miles off the coast. They'll look like faint lines poking out of the horizon, and they'll be sitting in deeper waters than turbines have ever known. We're talking thousands of feet. Walt Museum is the offshore lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He studies future technologies in the offshore wind industry. And he says, these skyscrapers will be floating rather than fixed to the sea floor. So basically, it's the same wind turbine on top. From the surface, you might not even know that it's floating. But it's suspended or supported by a buoyant foundation, and it's moored with cables to the bottom with anchors. The project is expected to take up 399 square miles of Ocean Land, an area more than twice the size of Lake Tahoe. And that's enough area to create the beginnings at least of a critical mass for an industry in California. And if you combine that with what's happening on the North Coast, then California can can think about having offshore wind become a significant contributor to its zero carbon policies. He's referring to another project that got the green light off Humboldt County. The need for this energy becomes even more important when you factor in nearby Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear power plant in California and a major energy supplier for the state. It's getting decommissioned. But this wind farm will more than replace the electricity. Diablo was supplying California enough to power about a million homes. The transition away from nuclear energy is a big impact to our region. Melissa James is the CEO of a local economic action coalition called Reach, She says there's no reason why nuclear power workers can't be trained to become wind power workers. So it's about 1500 direct jobs and 3000 contracted jobs that are going to shift and so we have an energy workforce that will be willing and ready and able to move into and support the growth of this new industry on the central coast. A recent cow Polly study found this wind farm would generate at least 650 jobs and more than $250 million in annual economic impacts. But back to the fishermen. You may be wondering, why can't they just fish in and around the turbines, so everyone's happy. Because since these turbines are floating, you've got mooring lines, cables and live electrical wires draped underwater between each platform. It's too risky for a fisherman to be pop putting around dropping nets, traps and fishing lines. And who knows if the fish will even stick around? Heaven says the 400 Square Mile section will become yet another place. He can't fish in addition to dozens of marine protected areas out of bounds for fishermen. It's already if you saw a map of where you can't fish. It's like a mosaic on the ocean. You're like, Whoa. So you have to go around here and go over the Yeah, It's crazy right now for me to to make a really good day and make money. I'm driving all the way down to charisma. You know, an hour hour and a half in my boat. He worries more displacement will lead to more fuel costs. Fewer fish brought to market and ultimately, more people dissuaded from becoming fishermen at all. And it's not just the wind farm itself. There's also talk of a new deep sea port going in along the central coast to transport and service these turbines. It'll add more local jobs, but fishermen like to even say it will disturb the underwater habitat. I know the fish would be scared and they would move. So when they show up here, with their big boats and their rumbling engines and their sonar, pinging the bottom and trenching the bottom that screws everything up, sometimes for years. The project will likely get split into three parcels at least 23 different wind developers. So far, only one perspective developer has met with the fishing industry and address these impacts. It's called Castle Wind and Olive Weinstein is the CEO will create a fund for the benefit of the fishermen. And effectively, it becomes a revenue sharing agreement. In other words, if her company should win the bid for release, she's prepared to compensate each individual fishermen. And set a pot of money aside for them to use at their discretion, improving safety of the boat improving about scholarships, training. Whatever they feel is required, including some infrastructure repairs. Heaven and the other fishermen are happy with this agreement, but it's only one developer who hasn't even won the bid for at least yet. The federal government is expected to open the lease auction next year, and the turbines will position the central coast to lead the country and renewable energy. But that's a story for another day. In the meantime, fishermen like Pavane are enjoying their quiet harbor while they can, and this is a special place and making sure they keep their seat at the table. When construction begins for KCRW, I'm Catherine Barnes in Morro Bay. Most Catherine mentioned.