Offshore Wind Energy


Offshore Wind Energy

The North Coast is a potentially-ideal location for developing offshore wind energy technologies, for a number of reasons:

  1. The North Coast’s offshore wind energy generation potential is unparalleled in the United States. While this potential has long been known, recent advances in floating offshore wind foundations made the development of the local wind resource feasible — local water depths off our coastline are too deep for standard, fixed-bottom foundation offshore wind turbine installation, necessitating floating platform foundations.
  2. Humboldt Bay is also the only deep-water port in California north of San Francisco Bay, and has substantial (and underutilized) port facilities and infrastructure that could be adapted to support offshore wind energy development locally as well as along the west coast more broadly.
  3. Numerous U.S. Department of Energy projects and National Laboratory studies have featured the Humboldt Bay region in their analyses and assessments of offshore wind and wave energy potential, including the development of multiple reference models used to characterize the power performance, O&M, cost of energy, viability, and environmental effects of potential marine renewable energy projects. These past studies provide a valuable foundation for the planning and analysis required to evaluate and develop any potential project.

In alignment with its priories of developing local renewable resources as well as supporting energy-related local economic development, RCEA has begun actively exploring the potential to move forward with a local offshore wind energy project.



RCEA Memorandum of Understanding with Principle Power


United States Annual Average Wind Speeds:


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.


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


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.

Renewable Energy Potential in Humboldt Includes Offshore Wind

December, 2017

In 2013, HSU’s Schatz Energy Research Center published an in-depth report ( on current energy consumption in Humboldt County and potential local renewable energy sources that would allow Humboldt County to rely almost exclusively on local renewable energy.

According to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by far the greatest potential for renewable electricity generation in our area is deep water offshore wind. According to NREL, the maximum technical potential for the Humboldt County coast is 1100 MW with a capacity factor (annual average of maximum output) of 55 percent. If Humboldt’s capacity were fully developed, it could supply twenty times the total electricity consumption of Humboldt County.  Current transmission capacity out of Humboldt County is approximately 60 MW, so full development of our capacity would require a major upgrade of our transmission lines.

Humboldt’s most promising sites for offshore wind development are approximately 15 to 20 miles offshore in deep water, so the turbines would be mounted on floating platforms. Onshore wind energy potential in Humboldt is significantly smaller than offshore and more variable, but is also substantial.

Almost 10 years ago, Shell tried to develop a wind energy site south of Ferndale on Bear River Ridge, but dropped the project for a variety of reasons—including strong local opposition. Shell did a number of environmental assessments at the time (including potential impacts on birds and bats) and held a number of public meetings. Some of these assessments may still be applicable to future projects.

Shell made a number of mistakes when they tried to develop their project, including poor public relations and not adequately involving local community groups and citizens at an early stage in the project. A significant amount of opposition was related to the fact that it was being developed by Shell, a multi-national oil company with a less than stellar environmental and human rights record.

Successful development of our local renewable energy potential will require active public involvement at a much earlier stage in the project than we saw with this previous project. Working with industry partners that have solid environmental and human rights records is also a priority.

Principle Power, a global technology leader for floating offshore wind energy based in Emeryville, CA, began exploratory meetings with RCEA, environmental groups, fishermen, and other parties in October of this year for a potential floating offshore wind project off the Humboldt coast. Their efforts to engage with local communities and interest groups early on is commendable.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was also approved by the RCEA board between RCEA and Principle Power in October, which establishes a collaborative effort to work together on the key requirements needed to develop Humboldt’s offshore wind energy potential. An operational offshore wind project would take a number of years to complete. These meetings and the MOU are only the beginning of that process.

Principle Power also participated in a clean energy panel discussion at HSU as part of the Schatz Energy Lab’s Sustainable Futures Speaker Series on November 9, which also featured representatives from RCEA, PG&E, and the Schatz Energy Lab.

In Humboldt County, we have excellent local energy expertise and abundant renewable energy sources that provide unique opportunities for local renewable energy generation. Long-term, Humboldt can become both energy self-sufficient and potentially a major exporter of renewable energy.

If you would like more information or to learn more about how to get involved with the offshore wind process, contact RCEA at You can also follow the RCEA board meeting agendas to attend meetings when offshore wind is on the agenda. Visit the RCEA website at

Submitted for the Northcoast Environmental Center

Humboldt County welcomes Community Choice Energy

This past May, Humboldt County became the eighth local jurisdiction in California to provide Community Choice Energy to its residents and businesses. Humboldt joined Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino, and several other counties and cities now offering an alternative way to buy electricity.

For years, investor-owned utilities like PG&E have been the only choice for most Californians when it comes to electricity supply. A state law adopted in 2003 allows local governments to procure electricity on behalf of local customers, with power delivery still handled by the local utility. This has allowed customers access to lower rates and more renewable power, with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Humboldt County’s program comes courtesy of Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a trusted provider of energy efficiency services for over a decade. We’re pleased that the community has welcomed the program, with nearly 95% of electric customers choosing to take advantage of our cost savings and locally controlled service. Community Choice Energy is now available throughout the county, with the exception of Ferndale, which will join the program early in 2018.

In addition to our base program, which now provides over 40% renewable power to the county, we offer a 100% renewable REpower+ option. An average household pays just five to six dollars extra per month for this service. Two local municipalities, the Cities of Blue Lake and Arcata, have chosen to switch all their public facilities over to REpower+ and are now powering their operations on 100% renewable electricity.

Community Choice Energy is made possible by ratepayer dollars. At the same time we’re helping utility customers cut their electric bills, we’re also setting aside a portion of revenues that will be used to build new renewable energy projects, creating clean industry jobs for the people of Humboldt County.

Speaking of the people of Humboldt, all of you helped develop and set direction for this new program through the workshops and surveys you participated in during planning and startup. We continue to welcome the public to our monthly Board meetings – come let us know what you think. See our website for meeting schedules and agendas.


The Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) and the City of Blue Lake are excited to announce that the City of Blue Lake has completed the process of enrolling in RePower+, Humboldt County’s Community Choice 100% Renewable Energy program.

The City of Blue Lake, including all the city buildings, public services, Parks and Recreation, and other city-operated facilities, has joined hundreds of other Humboldt businesses and residents who have “opted up” to help achieve energy independence and energy security in Humboldt County. The City of Arcata has also made the decision to opt up. The cost to Blue Lake will add only $.01/kWh to the city’s regular monthly bill.

“The cost really isn’t that much, but it’s a statement about the direction the city wants to move towards.” said Bobbi Ricca, Blue Lake City council mayor pro-tem. Bobbi also represents Blue Lake on the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s Board of Directors.

Mayor Adeline Jones added that Blue Lake’s citizens are excited about using as much renewable energy as possible, installing solar panels and taking advantage of the property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing programs that the City has made available to property owners in the city. “I’m always proud of our residents. We’re a small town that tackles big problems.”

City of Arcata Now Runs on 100% Renewable Source Electricity

As of August 2017, 100 percent of the electricity used by Arcata’s municipal government is generated from renewable sources. The City of Arcata opted up to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s REpower+ service last month. Now all City facilities and operations requiring electricity are running on renewable energy.

Opting up to REpower+ helps meet goals set by the Arcata City Council over a decade ago to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. REpower+ customers use more locally-sourced energy that supports local job development and renewable power infrastructure development, thus diversifying the region’s economy and building energy resiliency.

In May, all Humboldt County businesses, with the exception of Ferndale businesses, were automatically transitioned to RCEA’s Community Choice Energy program. Through the program’s basic REpower option a portion of the electricity purchased comes from renewable sources at lower rates than PG&E’s conventional power program. For 1 cent per kilowatt hour more, businesses focused on reducing carbon emissions could opt up to REpower+ service where all of the power purchased is generated from renewable, secure sources, such as wind, solar, and local biomass.

“Whether you are a resident or small business, you have the power to make a make a difference in addressing climate change by opting up to 100% renewable energy sources now,” says Mark Andre, Arcata Environmental Services Director. “By opting up to 100 percent renewable energy sources, all of your electricity needs will be powered by clean energy sources. No gas. No oil. No coal. No nuclear. No fossil fuels.”

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