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Off-shore windmills proposed for North Coast

The Redwood Coast Energy Authority is making moves toward creating wind turbines to begin a wind energy industry on the North Coast. According to the energy authority’s executive director, Matthew Marshall, they have already begun requesting proposals for companies who would work with them to build and manage the turbines.

“Humboldt County has one of the best offshore wind resources in the entire country,” Marshall said. ” So if you look at the overall potential for wind energy, our offshore resource is world class.”

However, Marshall said they aren’t planning on installing ordinary wind mills.

“The thing that’s unique about California is the water gets pretty deep pretty quickly off the coast,” Marshall said. “So you need floating platform technology to be able to deploy wind in our area, and that kind of technology is really just hitting the market.”

Marshall said the aesthetics of the coast should be minimally affected.

“They’ll be 20 miles or more off the coastline of from a visual standpoint,” he said. “That’s getting pretty far out. It’s hard to see at all from the shore.”

However, he said there are still obstacles.

“Some of the things that will be a challenge going forward, making sure that we go through all the proper environmental studies making sure to minimize the impact to marine mammals and birds and reduce conflicts with commercial fishing.”

The plan is to install around 10 turbines off the coast, which can continually generate around 100,000 megawatts of energy.

“That’s enough to power maybe 70,000 households,” Marshall said.

Marhsall said it would be a long process; even if they partnered with a private company soon, it would be five to seven years before the windmills would be on the North Coast. And at around $750 million, its no small cost. However, Marshall said he believes it will be worth in the end.

“It’s pretty exciting, the potential for our community,” Marshall said. “In the sense that we have both the potential to develop renewable energy but also boost local economic development.”