Calif. offshore farm leaps first hurdle

Source: Emily Yehle, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2016

California is one step closer to getting its first offshore wind farm.

The Interior Department announced yesterday that it has completed an “initial review” of a request from Trident Winds LLC to put 100 floating turbines more than 30 miles off the coast near the middle of the state. It found that the company was legally, technically and financially qualified to hold an offshore wind energy lease in federal waters, according to a press release.

“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,” David Hochschild, a commissioner on the California Energy Commission, said in a statement. “This offshore wind project proposal, the first of its kind, marks another important milestone.”

Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will next put a notice in the Federal Register to determine whether there is competitive interest in leasing the area. If there is none, it will begin the process of considering a lease for Trident Winds.

BOEM Director Abby Hopper said her agency will work closely with the state, industry and stakeholders “to ensure that our leasing process is conducted in a thoughtful, engaged and transparent manner.”

Trident sent its lease request in January. It proposes to generate up to 800 megawatts of power from the floating turbines, which would bring electricity to shore through a single transmission cable. The wind farm would sit about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay on almost 68,000 acres, according to Interior.

BOEM has so far awarded 11 wind energy leases in federal waters off the Atlantic coast. Last week, the agency designated a new “wind energy area” off the New York coast, raising the possibility of more leases. But Trident is the only company so far to express an interest in development off California’s shores.