Offshore Wind Energy

Offshore Wind Energy Development in Humboldt County

Humboldt County has been featured in local, national and international news recently after being identified as a potentially ideal location for offshore wind energy generation. The RCEA, 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 input from local fishermen, tribes, environmentalists, and government partners has been ongoing, public input and participation are key to understanding and shaping the benefits to our community.

floating turbine
floating turbine barge

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Project Timeline
Redwood Coast Offshore Wind Project Timeline

Public-private partnership to maximize local community benefits

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 a lease application to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on September 12, 2018. The collaboration 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.

Press releases:


Unsolicited Lease Request:

Graphic from BOEM

Click on the partner logos below to be directed to their respective websites.

Redwood Coast Energy Authority Logo
Principle Power_blue&green
EDP Renewables logo

H.T. Harvey & Associates logo
Herrera Environmental Consultants logo

Additional Information

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 5th, 2018:

Times Standard – “RCEA announces partnership for offshore wind farm”

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.

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.

July 2018:

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

United States Annual Average Wind Speeds

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.

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.

 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.

All photos on this page courtesy of Principle Power Inc.

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