Library filed under Offshore Wind from California
Before Humboldt County begins investing in offshore wind energy, local conservationists and fishermen say more research needs to be done to assess the projects’ local impacts. That was the consensus today at a meeting of the state Senate’s Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, hosted by committee chairman North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka.
“While we support it in concept, we remain keenly aware that, as related to our waters, the technology is still largely unproven and untested." Some of the major concerns from environmental groups consisted of turbines affecting bird migration patterns, electromagnetic fields, underwater noises and vibrations affecting orientation and navigational abilities of marine mammals and the turbine cables that float potentially leading to whale entanglements.
The dream of Morro Bay as a new hub of offshore renewable energy production in California could be over before it even gets its sea legs — or it could just be ramping up. ...State and San Luis Obispo County leaders say they’ve been informed the Navy will likely recommend against building potential wind farms off the coast of Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, something that could effectively sink hopes for the North Coast to be a new hub of renewable energy.
Gleaning energy from ocean wind would seem to be a California ideal: It emits no greenhouse gases, has nearly no environmental footprint, and harnesses one of the state’s most powerful and plentiful natural resources. But engineering challenges, regulatory hurdles and concerns about the turbines’ impact on wildlife have, until recently, mucked any forward progress.
On Friday, the federal Interior Department took the first steps to enable companies to lease waters in Central and Northern California for wind projects. If all goes as the state’s regulators and utilities expect, floating windmills could begin producing power within six years.
The proposed wind farm would consist of between 10 and 15 turbines with a combined capacity of between 100MW and 150MW and would be situated more than 32 kilometres off the coast of Eureka in northern Humboldt county. It could be commissioned in 2024, according to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA).
The Department of Defense gatekeeper for any renewable energy project off the coast is Steve Chun, community plans and liaison officer for the Navy’s Southwest Region, based in San Diego. ...”We have now received proposals to build wind farms at 14 different offshore sites to date,” he added. ...Also behind the scenes, California — represented by the California Energy Commission and the federal Bureau of Ocean Management (BOEM) — have been waiting for Department of Defense to work out its policy.
Fans of renewable energy anticipate a bonanza blowing off the coast of California.
“Information provided by BOEM to the Department of Defense indicates that the unsolicited offshore wind proposal from Trident is for an area within Department of the Navy ‘wind exclusion’ areas off the coast of Central California. These ‘wind exclusion’ areas are locations on the outer continental shelf where wind energy development will adversely impact Navy and/or Marine Corps testing, training and operational activities.”
A third problem is the bill’s requirement that the federal government sell wind leases off the California coast within a year of enactment. While wind farms can be a good source of renewable energy, they are just starting to be sited in the ocean — with none yet off the coast of California. Wind farms should not be arbitrarily rushed into existence, as this bill would do.
A wind farm off the coast of San Luis Obispo County that could help further state and national goals to produce more clean energy and jobs appears to be moving a bit closer to reality — although still probably years away from being built.
A public meeting about a proposed offshore wind project will be held Dec. 10 in Morro Bay; Trident Winds envisions installing 100 turbines about 20 miles off the coast