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  August 21st, 2016 | Written by

BOEM Announces Advance in Developing Wind Energy Offshore California

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  • Trident Winds, LLC for its proposed 765 megawatt floating wind energy project.
  • Offshore project would assist California in meeting its renewable energy goals.
  • Areas off the west coast and Hawaii could generate enough to power 500 million homes.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced last week a step forward in supporting wind energy development in federal waters offshore California. The agency is issuing a request for interest in a lease area requested by Trident Winds, LLC for its proposed 765 megawatt floating wind energy project.

In consultation with the State of California, BOEM has determined Trident Winds LLC is qualified to hold an outer continental shelf lease and now must determine whether it is appropriate to issue the company a lease on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.

“This announcement represents a significant step in facilitating the responsible development of offshore renewable energy to help California meet its energy needs,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “We are working closely with the State of California, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that planning for future commercial wind leasing is done in a transparent manner that engages stakeholders throughout the process.”

The proposed project would consist of 100 floating foundations, each supporting a wind turbine generating seven to eight megawatts of energy. A single transmission cable would bring the electricity to shore. The proposed lease area, about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay, covers 67,963 acres of federal lands in water depths of 2,600 to 3,300 feet.

“This is a compelling opportunity that would assist California in meeting its ambitious and critically important renewable energy goals,” said Hopper. “We will continue our work with public and private stakeholders to create a path forward for sustainable energy development in the right places with the lowest conflicts offshore the Golden State.”

“As California moves forward to meet 50 percent of the state’s energy needs with clean, renewable energy by 2030, wind power will play an important role,” added California Energy Commissioner David Hochschild.

If there is competitive interest, BOEM will initiate the competitive leasing process. If no expressions of interest are received, BOEM will proceed with the noncompetitive leasing process. BOEM is also seeking public comment on the project proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, areas off the U.S. west coast and Hawaii could generate 1.5 terawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 500 million homes.

To date, BOEM’s offshore renewable energy program has awarded 11 commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast. Nine of those leases were issued as a result of competitive lease sales that generated about $16 million in winning bids for more than one million acres. Last week, the agency announced a proposed lease sale for 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy leasing, and in June, a proposal to hold a competitive lease sale for an area offshore New York later this year.