Something New May Be Rising Off California Coast: Wind Farms

LOS ANGELES — California’s aggressive pursuit of an electric grid fully powered by renewable energy sources is heading in a new direction: offshore.

On Friday, the federal Interior Department took the first steps to enable companies to lease waters in Central and Northern California for wind projects. If all goes as the state’s regulators and utilities expect, floating windmills could begin producing power within six years.

Such ambitions were precluded until now because of the depths of the Pacific near its shore, which made it difficult to anchor the huge towers that support massive wind turbines. “They would be in much deeper water than anything that has been built in the world so far,” said Karen Douglas, a member of the California Energy Commission.

Proposals are expected from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority in Humboldt County, which is seeking developers for 10 to 15 floating wind units that can help it meet the carbon-free mandate.

Redwood Coast, a government-run utility serving 60,000 customers in a mostly rural area, expects to spend about $500 million for the wind farm.

“That level of generation would be a significant chunk of our energy load,” said Matthew Marshall, Redwood Coast’s executive director. “Offshore wind is really the big untapped resource.”

Read more here: Something New May Be Rising Off California Coast: Wind Farms