Interior to advance Ore. floating turbine proposal

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Interior Department is expected to announce today that it’s advancing a Seattle company’s plan to install the nation’s first commercial floating wind turbine facility.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau are scheduled to make the announcement this afternoon in Portland alongside Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber (D).

BOEM last fall announced it was evaluating whether there was competitive interest in developing waters roughly 15 miles off Coos Bay, Ore., where Principle Power Inc. has proposed building a 30-megawatt floating wind farm (Greenwire, Sept. 30, 2013).

The agency today filed a notice in the Federal Register announcing it received no competitive interest, which clears the way for the company to submit a formal project proposal.

The next step for BOEM: consider whether to issue a noncompetitive lease.

While wind is plentiful along the West Coast, waters are generally too deep to moor wind turbines to the seabed like what is being pursued along the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Principle Power wants to tow five 6 MW floating turbines to a 15-square-mile-area, where the water is about 1,200 feet deep.

If approved, the Oregon project could become BOEM’s sixth offshore wind lease and the first for a floating wind farm.

Principle Power in late 2012 was one of seven companies to be awarded $4 million each in Energy Department grants to support the engineering, design and permitting of commercial-scale offshore wind projects.

Up to three of those projects will be selected to receive up to an additional $47 million each, pending congressional appropriations, to support project siting, construction and installation.

Principle Power said its WindFloat turbines can be built on land and towed offshore, saving on the cost of assembling and mooring the turbines at sea.

The company could not be reached for a comment this morning.