Offshore wind projects on the Central Coast caught an updraft Oct. 18 when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a call for information and nominations to identify companies interested in commercial projects.
The backing by the Trump administration moves forward a proposal concept that had been stalled by an assessment by the U.S. Navy in February.
Energy company Trident Winds had submitted an unsolicited proposal to develop a wind farm off the coast of Morro Bay in 2016, but in the course of the application process, discovered that it overlapped with a massive naval territory stretching from Monterey to Los Angeles.
The groups had been in continued conversations to try to reconcile the proposal with naval operations. The direction by the Trump administration for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to gather more information would be the first step toward selecting a site for wind energy leases.
A competitive request for interest process by the BOEM in 2016 received a second bid from Norwegian company Statoil Wind. The Trident Winds proposal set development costs for its system at $3.23 billion to build 100 floating offshore turbines that would produce up to 1,000 megawatts of energy.
The call for nominations opens Oct. 19 and outlines 1,073 miles of ocean between three “call areas” off the coast of Humboldt, Morro Bay and the Diablo Canyon region. If the bureau determines that there is competitive interest in these areas, it will identify which areas will be subject to an environmental analysis and consideration for leasing, according to the notice.
The announcement by Zinke’s office included two other wind projects off the shores of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The BOEM currently manages 12 active commercial offshore wind energy leases spanning 1.4 million acres off the East Coast, the announcement said. If the call for nominations netted bids, it could spur the first offshore wind auction on the West Coast.