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Wind energy company works toward Coos Bay project

COOS BAY – For the first time in recent history, South Coast fisherman are on board with an offshore industrial project.

Nick Edwards, a representative of the Southern Oregon Ocean Resource Coalition, said the organization supports Principle Power’s plans for a 30-megawatt wind energy flotilla off the South Coast.

“It’s better to work with these people and be part of the process,” Edwards said. The commissioner said fisherman needed six months to reach agreement among themselves.

“It’s still not going to make a bunch of people happy,” he said.

The company plans to anchor its proposed wind farm beyond the three-mile limit, outside of state jurisdiction and under federal law. The wind energy platforms would be anchored in about 1,000 feet of water.

The placement would help avoid conflict with the South Coast’s commercial fishing fleet.

The company received a $4 million grant from the Department of Energy in March. The initial grant could expand to as much as $47 million. Kevin Bannister, vice president of business and government affairs, said the project is one of seven wind technology demonstrations selected by the Energy Department.

Of the seven, Principle’s is the only West Coast proposal. The agency plans to narrow the list to three projects after the initial planning and test phase.

The company intends to moor five 6-megawatt wind turbines off the Oregon Coast. Bannister said the turbine blades would be installed in Coos Bay, and the platforms would be launched from the North Spit.

The Oregon International Port of Coos Bay is partnering with the wind power company on the project.

The port originally entered into negotiations with the Principle Power in March 2012 in an attempt to compete for the Energy Department grant. The port has named the endeavor Project Effectuate.

Bannister said the wind power project dovetails with proposed construction of a liquefied natural gas export terminal on Coos Bay’s North Spit.

“This project happens on almost exactly the same timeline as Jordan Cove,” Bannister said.

Bannister said the wind project would benefit from infrastructure provided by Jordan Cove Energy Project. But Principle could move forward without the LNG terminal.

“Plan A is Jordan Cove,” Bannister said. “Plan B is not so good. Plan B is harder.”

The political news website The Hill reported Thursday that the Energy Department expects to begin deciding on LNG export applications “very soon.”

Bannister said Principle Power wants the community to support the project and plans public meetings next month.