Offshore Wind In California? Conference is Latest Step Forward

The California Energy Commission participated in a March 13 conference focused on offshore wind as a potential energy resource in California.

The Sacramento conference, which the nonprofit Pacific Ocean Energy Trust hosted, featured representatives of the offshore wind industry, key government officials, environmental non-governmental organizations, and academic leaders.

Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas talked about state perspectives on planning efforts for offshore wind energy, while project manager Scott Flint presented data about California’s offshore wind potential, environmental considerations, and the implications for offshore wind in the state.

Map courtesy of National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

California is one of 13 states working with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on offshore wind-related activities. The first offshore wind farm in the United States, the Block Island Wind Farm, went online last year off the coast of Rhode Island. Since then other states, like Maryland and New York, have approved offshore wind projects.

Projects being developed on the East Coast have wind turbines anchored to the seabed. Those on the West Coast would require using floating platforms due to the depth of the water.

Initial outreach efforts for offshore wind were focused on the Central Coast region due to ample wind, commercial interest by offshore wind developers and existing transmission infrastructure. Continued outreach will focus on the North Coast region.

BOEM and the Energy Commission are part of an Intergovernmental Task Force working on planning for potential offshore wind projects. BOEM regulates offshore energy uses in federal waters, which start three nautical miles off the coastline.

In 2016, BOEM published a request for interest to determine commercial interest for a project in the Morro Bay area. The Seattle-based Trident Winds, LLC has proposed a project about 33 miles off of Morro Bay.

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California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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