Onshore Permitting Requirements for Offshore Wind Projects in California


Attorneys Melissa Foster, Cherise Gaffney, Chad Marriott and Tim Taylor contributed an article to Windpower Engineering & Development titled “Onshore permitting requirements for offshore wind projects in California,” published July 27, 2020. In the article, the attorneys outline the requirements for permitting onshore equipment and facilities necessary for an offshore wind installation.

Onshore components of an offshore wind installation that are subject to permitting include, but are not limited to, the onshore export cable route and that of cable buried under the beach and nearby roads or parks, as well as transformers, switchgear or other equipment needed for interconnection.

Agencies involved in approving or evaluating onshore components of a proposed offshore wind facility may include:

  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), whose National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review for the offshore component of the project may consider potential impacts from onshore components.
  • California Coastal Commission (or Coastal Commission-approved Local Coastal Programs [LCP]).
  • California State Lands Commission, which manages tide, submerged and coastal public-trust lands in California.
  • Local governments.
  • Various other federal, state and local entities that may provide approvals.

The authors conclude, “Early involvement with onshore approval agencies and stakeholders will be critical to ensuring that an offshore wind project will be successful. Until now, the focus in California has been on identifying the eligible offshore locations for turbine and cable placement, but developers also should give early consideration to the necessary onshore approvals and the many hurdles that typically arise. Be sure to carve out a significant amount of time in the development schedule for onshore permitting, as public scrutiny, agency review, and inevitable delay are all but guaranteed.”

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