The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed an initial review of an unsolicited lease request from Trident Winds LLC for a floating wind project offshore Morro Bay, Calif., and deemed the request complete.
The proposed project would generate up to 800 MW of power through roughly 100 floating foundations, each supporting a turbine that could produce up to 8 MW. A single seafloor transmission cable would bring the electricity to shore.
If additional transmission capacity and market off-take can be obtained, BOEM says the proposal may be expanded to generate 1,000 MW at a later date. The project would be located about 33 nautical miles northwest of Morro Bay in water depths of 2,600-3,300 feet.
The agency says its receipt of an unsolicited lease request is the first step in a leasing process that will include environmental analysis and extensive stakeholder engagement. BOEM will soon issue a Federal Register notice to determine if there is competitive interest in the area.
As part of its review, BOEM confirmed that Trident Winds is legally, technically and financially qualified to hold an offshore wind energy lease in federal waters. The proposed lease area is 67,963 acres.
“Today’s announcement marks an important step in facilitating the responsible development of clean offshore energy to power homes and businesses in the Golden State,” says Abigail Ross Hopper, director of BOEM. “BOEM will work closely with the state of California, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that our leasing process is conducted in a thoughtful, engaged and transparent manner.”
The Trident Winds request, received on Jan. 14, is the first formal interest in obtaining a lease for wind development in federal waters off California, according to BOEM.
“Trident Winds will seek a long-term power purchase agreement or a build-own-transfer transaction with one or more load-serving utilities,” the application states. “Initial commercial operation for the project is expected in the 2025 time frame.”
The Federal Register notice, which BOEM expects to issue this summer, also requests that public and interested stakeholders comment and provide information on site conditions; commercial, military or other uses of the area; and potential impacts of the proposed project.
If BOEM determines there is competitive interest in the area, it will initiate the competitive leasing process. If no expressions of interest are received, BOEM will proceed with the non-competitive leasing process. The agency will also use responses to the notice to inform decision-making about the proposed project and to identify potential issues for National Environmental Policy Act analysis.
To date, BOEM says, it has awarded 11 commercial wind energy leases in federal waters off the Atlantic coast, including nine leases issued as a result of competitive lease sales (two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore New Jersey, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). Just last week, BOEM defined an approximately 81,130-acre wind energy area in federal waters offshore New York for potential commercial wind development.
“As California moves forward to meet 50 percent of the state’s energy needs with clean, renewable energy by 2030, wind power will play an important role,” says Commissioner David Hochschild of the California Energy Commission. “This offshore wind project proposal, the first of its kind, marks another important milestone.”
A copy of Trident Winds’ request can be found here.