BOEM to Gauge Interest in Floating Wind Project off California

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is issuing a Request for Interest in a lease area offshore Morro Bay, California, requested by Trident Winds, LLC for its proposed 765MW floating wind energy project.

In consultation with the State of California, BOEM has determined Trident Winds LLC is qualified to hold an Outer Continental Shelf lease and now must determine whether it is appropriate to issue the company a lease on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.

The proposed project would consist of 100 floating foundations, each supporting a wind turbine generating 7-8 megawatts of energy. A single transmission cable would bring the electricity to shore. The proposed lease area, about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay, covers 67,963 acres of federal lands in water depths of 2,600‐3,300 feet.

If there is competitive interest, BOEM will initiate the competitive leasing process. If no expressions of interest are received, BOEM will proceed with the noncompetitive leasing process.

“This announcement represents a significant step in facilitating the responsible development of offshore renewable energy to help California meet its energy needs,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.

“We are working closely with the State of California, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that planning for future commercial wind leasing is done in a transparent manner that engages stakeholders throughout the process.”

BOEM is also seeking public comment on the project proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, areas off the U.S. west coast and Hawaii could generate 1.5 terawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power more than 500 million homes.

The department will publish a Potential Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Offshore California, Request for Interest in the Federal Register on August 17, 2016. The notice includes a 30-day public comment period.

BOEM received the unsolicited request for a commercial wind lease from Trident Winds on January 14, 2016.

In the Pacific, BOEM has received three unsolicited commercial floating wind lease requests offshore Hawaii and this one offshore California.