U.S. ocean energy managers’ recent call for comments on possible wind power lease areas off the southern Oregon coast prompted input from developers, environmentalists, towns, counties, port overseers, state and federal bodies, unaffiliated members of the public and seafood industry interests.
And Google LLC.
The online search and advertising behemoth, an Alphabet Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOGL) subsidiary, is a leading corporate buyer of renewable energy, and offshore wind could be a big new resource on the West Coast using floating turbines. But Google didn’t weigh in to back development in the two call areas – swaths of ocean totaling 1,800 square miles – that the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is exploring.
Instead, Google expressed concern about what wind power off Oregon might mean for subsea cable systems.
The company is an owner of and the U.S. landing party for a trans-Pacific fiber-optic undersea cable that went into operation in 2016. It connects the West Coast at Bandon in Oregon to Japan and Taiwan. Google has sole access to two transmission strands across the ocean, one for data heading west and another for data heading east.
Bandon lies latitudinally between the call areas, both of which begin about 14 miles offshore and extend up to 65 miles west from the coast.
The so-called FASTER Cable System “does not currently physically overlap with the Coos Bay Call Area or the Brookings Call Area,” Google noted in its filing. However, the company went on to ask BOEM to “please clarify if call/lease areas will limit future development of telecommunication cables.”
Google called such cables “the backbone of the internet” and said it was “crucial to establish a protection protocol for existing telecommunication cables and new telecommunication cables that pass through a Call Area.”
The company cited guidelines from a subsea cable protection nonprofit that call for consultation between parties and distance limits when development might affect a cable.
“The purpose of identifying distance limits … is to establish how much sea room is actually needed to efficiently and safely execute a cable repair (fault location, cable recovery, cable repair, cable re-deployment),” Google said.
Not that the company is necessarily opposed to Oregon offshore wind.
“Google appreciates there are multiple uses for sustainably sharing the ocean floor, and that all parties must be good stewards of the seabed,” the company said in closing its statement.
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