UPDATE 14:50: RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC, one of the winning bidders, sent the following response. Outpost additional comment request:
“RWE is committed to thoughtfully engaging tribes and tribal fishers throughout all phases of project development,” Dominik Schwegmann, head of US West offshore development for RWE, wrote in an email. Outpost. “Before the auction, RWE met with a number of tribes to learn about their heritage. We look forward to meeting with all affected tribes to continue to discuss their interests surrounding our new North Shore lease.”
The Yurok tribe has second thoughts about sea breeze.
During a virtual press conference this Thursday morning, Yurok Tribal Vice Chairman Frankie Myers expressed disappointment that there were two provisional winners of the offshore wind lease auction for the Humboldt Wind Farm – California North Floating, LLC and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings. LLC – “did not meaningfully engage with the tribe” before or immediately after the auction.
“It’s not frustrating,” Myers said. “This is a long process. We’ve had it with other organizations… we’ve been at conferences for over a year now and we’re sure everyone who is interested or potentially interested in bidding on these leases within our ancestral area knows and understands… would actively participate and wanted to participate in early conversations. None of the people who won the bid said, “Hey, we’re thinking of coming your way!” We take it as a complete disrespect.”
Instead, “several other bidders” had contacted the Yurok tribe before this week’s auction to discuss plans for the floating offshore wind project and assured the tribe that it would “happen.” [an] Myers said he is an active participant throughout the decision-making process. “It turned out that none of them [entities] actually came to talk to the tribes who won the bid.
From regional groups to international energy giants such as Shell, 43 separate entities have been selected as potential bidders for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) offshore wind lease auction. California North Floating, LLC, a subsidiary of Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC, a German multinational energy company, submitted winning bids for two leases in the Humboldt Wind Energy Field, which covers more than 132,000 acres and spans approximately 20 miles. West of Eureka, $331.5 million total.
Three leases totaling $425 million were awarded to Equinor Wind US, LLC, Central California Offshore Wind, LLC and Invenergy California Offshore, LLC for the Morro Bay Wind Energy Field.
In the years leading up to the last auction, Myers said BOEM made a concerted effort to ensure “we were involved every step of the way” to include the Yurok tribe.
“If you look at the Notice of Final Sale, you’ll see language that talks about tribal sovereignty, talks about tribal governance and the importance of tribal participation, and that’s what we asked for,” he said. “We understand BOEM’s limitations. We understand that they play in the box and we want to make sure they do their best in the box. … Could they push the envelope further? Absolutely. But did they come up to the plate? Did they have a meaningful conversation? Yes. Yes, they did.”
However, Myers emphasized that the tribe’s talks with BOEM are only one part of the consultation process. “And according to Yurok, consultation doesn’t get us where we need to be at the end of the day.”
“The Yurok people see the sea breeze as a conversation,” he said. “We are not in a position to support and oppose it. We don’t know what that will be yet, but what we do know is what we’ve learned over the past 150 years of dealing with the industry. What we do as Indigenous people is to look to the past to guide our future as Yurok people. I can tell you that it never ended well for our Yurok people after seeing industry come into our region with this same playbook.
Moving forward, Myers said the Yurok tribe will continue to work with the two tenants, as well as consultants to increase engagement with the state and federal government, as well as other North Coast tribes and stakeholders.
The Outpost requested further comment from the two lessees, California North Floating, LLC and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC, but did not receive a response prior to publication of this story. We’ll update this post when we hear back.