Offshore Wind Energy Development in Humboldt County
Humboldt County has been featured in local, national and international news since 2018 as a potentially ideal location for offshore wind energy generation. The Redwood Coast Energy Authority, tasked with developing local renewable resources and energy-related economic advancement, has taken lead on coordinating the extensive planning and research process required for what could be California’s first floating offshore wind project. While conversations with local fishermen, tribes, environmentalists, labor unions and government partners are ongoing, our community’s response has been supportive. RCEA is committed to advancing the responsible development of our offshore wind resource in a manner that maximizes benefits to the local community.
Why Offshore Wind?
- The North Coast has a world class offshore wind resource
- Offshore wind technology is now available to unlock its potential
- Offshore wind diversifies the renewable portfolio needed to decarbonize California
- Humboldt Bay is well suited to serve as a potential hub for a broader west-coast offshore wind industry
Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Project
- 100-150 MW offshore wind project
- ~25 miles from Eureka, 600-1000m depth
- Provide competitively priced renewable energy to electric ratepayers
- Prioritize stakeholder engagement, acceptance, actively identify and address issues of local concern
- Responsible development of environmentally sound project
- Maximize investment in local infrastructure to develop Humboldt Bay into an industry hub
Selected based on extensive stakeholder input and technical factors:
- Existing uses: fishing and shipping
- Wind resource
- Wildlife and habitats
- Technical constraints
“The farther out the better”
- 5 to 15 turbines – (TBD based on final project and turbine sizing)
- Anchored to seabed using synthetic mooring lines
- Inter-array cables connecting turbines
- Export cable to shore (exact landfall TBD)
For an overview of the design, watch this Principle Power, Inc. Windfloat video.
What is the Redwood Coast Offshore Wind consortium?
At the beginning of April, 2018 the RCEA Board of Directors selected partners for a public-private partnership to explore developing a wind farm off the coast of Humboldt County. The consortium, consisting of Principle Power Inc., EDPR Offshore North America LLC, Aker Solutions Inc., H. T. Harvey & Associates, and Herrera Environmental Consultants Inc, was selected from six highly qualified respondents after RCEA issued a Request for Qualifications in February.
RCEA and the consortium submitted an unsolicited lease application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on September 12, 2018. Although that lease request was not granted, we are continuing with what will now be a competitive lease auction for the same area. The consortium is working closely with local stakeholders to minimize any potential impacts and maximize local community benefits. Once a lease has been approved, the work of researching and developing a plan will take years to complete and will be the product of extensive community collaboration.
The Project Partners
Principle Power is an innovative technology and services provider for the offshore deep water wind energy market. Principle Power’s mission is to make the WindFloat the most competitive, safe, reliable and environmentally friendly technology for deep-water offshore wind projects while enabling global offshore wind markets to reach their full potential.
Herrera Environmental Consultants is a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm focused on restoration, water, and sustainable development. Herrera works to create economic vitality and community in a sustaining environment.
EDP Renewables is a leading, global renewable energy company devoted to value creation, innovation and sustainability. EDP Renewables develops, constructs, owns, and operates renewable electricity generation facilities in 14 countries.
The ecologists and professionals at H. T. Harvey & Associates deliver consulting services to public agencies, private entities, and nonprofit organizations. The mission of H. T. Harvey & Associates is to create ecologically sound solutions to complex natural resource challenges.
RCEA works to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient and renewable resources available in the region for the benefit of the Member agencies and their constituents.
What is the Call for Information?
- Notice published in the Federal Register for formal public comment
- Requests nominations of interest for leasing from project developers
Many of our community stakeholders submitted comments to:
- Ensure that local offshore wind resources will be developed in a manner that aligns with our community’s preferences and also maximizes prioritizes local community benefits
- Communicate the importance of direct community involvement and local stakeholder support as critical factors to offshore wind project viability ad success
- Support Redwood Coast Offshore Wind project as right-sized project for local community and environment
Response to the Call for Information:
- In response to the Call, BOEM announced on April 23, 2019 that they received 14 nominations from developers who identified specific portions of the call areas for which they wish to obtain a commercial lease for a wind energy project.
- Visit BOEM’s website for a summary of the nominations.
To learn more about the history of offshore wind, how it works, and the steps BOEM takes to work with many stakeholders when planning offshore wind development, watch BOEM’s “Renewable Energy Whiteboard” video.
Unsolicited Lease Request:
The North Coast region is home to a commercial fishing industry that provides sustainably-caught seafood to our community and many others. For many generations these commercial fisheries have provided a livelihood for local fishermen and their families, and it continues to be a key element of our region’s economy and local culture.
The Redwood Offshore Wind consortium recognizes that a viable commercial fishing industry is integral to the economy and culture of the North Coast and that the development of offshore wind energy will permanently impact the commercial fishing industry economically and culturally. They recognize that such development should be pursued in a manner that minimizes and mitigates impacts to fishing so that both endeavors can sustainably coexist for the benefit of our community. Both the consortium and the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association agree to cooperate and work together in good faith for the purpose of ensuring that the efforts of RCEA and its project partners to develop a floating offshore wind energy project off the coast of Humboldt County proceed in a way that effectively identifies, avoids, minimizes, and mitigates impacts to the commercial fishing industry to the greatest extent possible.
Memo of Understanding with the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association and Redwood Coast Offshore Wind
Fishing Community Sustainability Plans – Fishing community sustainability planning for Eureka and Shelter Cove
- Although the number of registered commercial fishing boats in the Humboldt Bay area has declined from approximately 500 in the 1950s to approximately 220 in 2004, the bay is still an important port for commercial fishing.
- More than 500 vessels from other West Coast ports use the bay’s facilities annually. The commercial fishing fleet is based at Woodley Island Marina, the City of Eureka Marina, and to a lesser extent, the private King Salmon Marina (HBHRCD 2007)
- Commercial crab fishing is highly active in nearshore waters off Eureka and makes up the overwhelming majority of Eureka commercial landings and ex-vessel revenue between 1992 and 2014 (Hackett et al. 2017).
- Groundfish trawl fisheries occur at greater depths, generally in water depths less than 600 fathoms (1100 meters), with an average depth of <300 fathoms (550 meters) (Sommers et al. 2016).
- Since 1981, total pounds of all fish landed in Eureka has dropped from a high in 1981 of 36.9 million pounds to on average 1.9 million pounds between 2001 and 2007; most of the decline was due to a decrease in groundfish landings (Pomeroy et al. 2010).
- Eureka City Council focuses on sustainability fishing industry Phillip Santos, Times-Standard, The Eureka City Council turned its attention to the status of the fishing industry at their meeting on Tuesday evening.
- “Facing the Wind” A fisherman’s take on offshore wind, by Ken Bates and Linda Hilderbrand, in the North Coast Journal.
Additional Information and Resources
Does RCEA’s long-term contract for 100 MW of solar energy from the Sandrini Sol 1 project preclude RCEA contracting for offshore wind when that becomes available?
RCEA’s goal is to have a diversified power mix, and this long-term solar power purchase agreement is an ideal complement to offshore wind in a number of ways. The solar contract’s price per unit of energy is lower than we expect offshore wind to cost, but offshore wind’s time-of-day production better matches our customer load shape. In addition, the location of the solar project allows it to avoid the transmission access challenge that large-scale renewable energy generation sited in Humboldt County faces, due to our remoteness from the state’s main transmission corridors.
The Sandrini contract helps us meet our near-term SB350 compliance targets, which require us to secure long-term renewable portfolio standard contracts, and it does so in a very cost-effective way. We could not have waited for offshore wind for this purpose, given the long development timeline. About half of RCEA’s portfolio remains open for long-term contracts.
It will also be critical for there to be more than one off-taker for a large-scale offshore wind industry to be successful. Hopefully, other Community Choice Energy programs across the state can add offshore wind to their portfolios as well.
Aker Solutions, Cognite Awarded Digital Offshore Grant – Aker Solutions, one of RCEA’s offshore wind consortium partners, was awarded a $2 million grant in support of offshore floating wind farms and minimizing their impact on the environment.
December 17, 2018
Windpower Engineering and Development – Offshore wind is (finally) coming to America. RCEA is #4 out of the 8 most significant steps forward for offshore wind in 2018
October 19, 2018
NY Times – “Something New May Be Rising Off California Coast: Wind Farms”.
October 18, 2018
North Coast Journal – “Facing the Wind”. A fisherman’s take on offshore wind, by Ken Bates and Linda Hilderbrand
May 6, 2018:
San Diego Union Tribune – “Offshore wind farms coming to California — but the Navy says no to large sections of the coast”
April 6, 2018:
Tina Casey / Clean Technica – “Don’t Mess With California: Floating Offshore Wind Farm Shapes Up As Trump Clamps Down”
April 6, 2018:
Kallanish Energy – “First floating U.S. wind farm may be built off California”
April 4, 2018:
Kuow – “California Takes Up Ocean Wind Energy After Oregon Project Fails”
April 3, 2018:
Reuters – “Group pursuing floating wind farm off California coast”
February 21, 2018:
North Coast Journal – “In the Wind” cover feature article on Offshore Wind in Humboldt County.
Webinar: Potential Effects of Offshore Renewable Energy: Knowledge and Resources – Recorded April 15, 2020 Hosted by Pacific Ocean Energy Trust with presentation by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Interview: Astrid Skarheim Onsum, SVP, Head of Wind, Aker Solutions. Her view on the path ahead and the growing role and promising future of ‘floating wind.’
September 10, 2018:
Explore North Coast and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center – Explore North Coast and the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center will present a talk in their lecture series Monday featuring Matthew Marshall, executive director of Redwood Coast Energy Authority. His presentation will focus on the potential of an offshore wind energy project. The lecture is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center, 921, Waterfront Drive. Admission is free.
KHSU Thursday Night Talk – TNT explored the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s proposal to put a floating offshore wind farm off Humboldt’s coast. The proposal, which would place floating wind turbines ~20-24 miles offcoast, would generate enough power to light all of Humboldt. Guests Lori Biodini of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority and Jen Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper discussed the proposal and potential environmental impacts, both positive and negative, with host Tom Wheeler.
Pacific Ocean Energy Trust (POET) – Marine Renewable Energy Environmental Regulatory Workshop Report: Moving to Better Information and Risk Retirement
April 24, 2018:
Jefferson Public Exchange – “North Coast Eyes Offshore Wind Farm,” interview with Lori Biondini of RCEA, Jason Busch of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, and Geoffrey Riley.
March 12, 2018:
California Energy Commission – Webinar on Offshore Renewable Energy (audio recording)
February 22, 2018:
KHSU EcoNews Report – Interview with Matthew Marshall and Jen Kalt.
February 22, 2018:
Sustainable Futures Speaker Series – “Do Wind Turbines Make Good Neighbors?” Founder’s Hall 118, at Humboldt State University. Presentation by Joseph Rand, Research Affiliate, Electricity Markets & Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Video archive will be available soon from the HSU Library
Senator McGuire hosted a Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture an offshore wind energy hearing on May 3, 2019 at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center in Eureka.
California’s Fisheries and Wildlife – Can they co-exist with Offshore Wind Energy Development?
Access Humboldt Channel 11 air date/times:
Play Date / Time Channel
5/11/19 Sat 3:30 pm AH 11
5/12/19 Sun 9:30 am AH 11
5/13/19 Mon 6:30 pm AH 11
5/14/19 Tue 5:30 am AH 11
5/18/19 Sat 9:30 am AH 11
5/19/19 Sun 8:30 pm AH 11
High Road for Deep Water: Policy Options for a California Offshore Wind Industry
By Robert Collier, Center for Labor Research and Education, University of California, Berkeley
Potential Offshore Wind Energy Areas in California: An Assessment of Locations, Technology, and Costs
By the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
West Coast Environmental Monitoring Protocols for Marine Renewable Energy – includes a case study for Humboldt offshore wind.
Department of the Navy California Offshore Wind Compatibility Assessment
In anticipation of growing interest in developing wind energy projects offshore California, the Department of the Navy has conducted a mission compatibility assessment for the outer continental shelf. The compatibility assessment reflects the requirements of Navy and Marine Corps missions conducted in the air, on the surface, and below the surface of these waters.
From the National Renewable Energy Lab
Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Responsible for issuing leases for offshore wind energy projects in federal waters, the mission of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is to manage development of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf energy and mineral resources in an environmentally and economically responsible way.
California Offshore Wind Energy Gateway
A joint project of BOEM, the CA Public Utilities Commission, and the CA Energy Commission, the Offshore Renewable Wind Energy Gateway assembles geospatial information on ocean wind resources, ecological and natural resources, ocean commercial and recreational uses and community values. This information will help identify areas off California that are potentially suitable for wind energy generation.
RCEA Mission and Goals
Relating to the local development of floating offshore wind energy, RCEA’s 2003 Joint Powers Agreement includes specific goals to:
- Lead, coordinate and integrate regional efforts that advance secure, sustainable, clean and affordable energy resources.
- Support research, development, demonstration, innovation, and commercialization of sustainable energy technologies by public and private entities operating in Humboldt County.
The Humboldt County General Plan designates RCEA as the regional energy authority with the responsibility to coordinate and facilitate countywide strategic energy planning and implementation. In 2012, RCEA adopted the Humboldt County Comprehensive Action Plan for Energy (CAPE), which is one of RCEA’s primary guiding documents. The CAPE established specific strategic action items relevant to the development of the region’s offshore wind energy resources, including:
- Large-Scale Wind Energy: Work with utilities and private companies to develop off-shore wind energy demonstration projects.
- Emerging Energy Technologies: Support the development of emerging energy technology from local innovators and inventors, as well as from non-local sources.
- Business Development: Collaborate with local economic development entities to attract technology developers, manufacturers, and energy service providers to locate operations in the County when appropriate.
- Proactive Development Support: Collaborate with local jurisdictions to identify and pre-assess locations and facilities that could appropriately support energy generation projects and/or other energy-related business ventures.
- Local Energy Investment: Work with local economic development entities and financial institutions to develop programs and resources that facilitate local community investment in and/or ownership of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Finalized in 2014, the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan (a community-wide effort to define a vision and Strategic Plan for achieving energy independence and energy security in Humboldt County) identifies “pursuing opportunities for off-shore wind energy research, development, and demonstration” as an important objective, noting that Humboldt County is uniquely positioned to play a critical role in the early adoption of offshore wind energy resources in California and that local harbor infrastructure can support development of these technologies.