California floating offshore wind project proposed

Friday, April 1, 2016

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is moving toward the prospect of leasing sites for commercial wind energy development in federal waters offshore California.  According to a March 21 release by BOEM, a January 2016 request by Trident Winds, LLC for a lease will now trigger further steps in BOEM's leasing process.

Trident Winds filed its unsolicited lease request on January 14, 2016.  That request proposed a project to be located about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay.  The lease area proposed covers almost 68,000 acres in water depths of 2,600‐3,300 feet.  The project would generate up to 800 megawatts of power using about 100 floating foundations, each supporting a turbine that could produce up to 8 MW.  The project could be expanded to generate 1,000 megawatts at a later date, if additional transmission capacity and market off-take can be obtained.

On March 21, 2016, BOEM confirmed that Trident Winds is legally, technically, and financially qualified to hold an offshore wind energy lease in federal waters.

Under the agency's leasing process, its next step will be to publish a notice in the Federal Register to determine if there is competitive interest in the area requested. That Notice will also solicit comments and information on site conditions, commercial, military or other uses of the area and potential impacts of the proposed Trident Winds project.  BOEM expects to issue that Notice this summer.

Based on the information and expressions of interest received during the comment period on the Notice, BOEM will determine whether there is competitive interest in the area. If BOEM determines there is competitive interest, it will initiate its competitive leasing process. If no expressions of interest are received, BOEM will proceed with its noncompetitive leasing process.

So far, BOEM has awarded eleven commercial wind energy leases in federal waters off the Atlantic coast, nine of which were issued as a result of competitive lease sales.

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