Ocean bureau fields lease request for 765 MW wind project off of California

offshore wind farm june elp

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will announce in the Aug. 18 Federal Register that it has gotten an unsolicited application for wind power area leasing from Trident Winds for a 765 MW wind project to be located offshore of the retired Morro Bay power plant in California.

The purpose of this Aug. 18 public notice is to: describe the unsolicited proposal submitted to BOEM by Trident Winds to acquire an OCS commercial wind lease; solicit submissions of indications of interest in acquiring a commercial lease for wind energy development on the OCS offshore California in the area described; and solicit public input regarding the area, the potential environmental consequences associated with wind energy development in the area, and existing and planned multiple uses of the area.

Any party submitting an indication of interest in acquiring a commercial wind lease for or within the Proposed Lease Area needs to do so within 30 days of this Aug. 18 notice.

On Jan. 14, BOEM received an unsolicited request from Trident Winds for a utility-scale floating wind energy facility offshore Morro Bay, California, that would interconnect with the California electrical grid at the existing Morro Bay plant. The project would be located, at its closest point, about 15 nautical miles offshore Point Piedras Blancas in water depths of about 2,900 feet.

The proposed project would generate an anticipated 765 MW from about 100 floating units, each equipped with up to an 8-MW wind turbine generator and connected by inter-unit electrical cabling, with a single transmission cable exporting electricity to the mainland. Trident Winds proposes to interconnect the project with the grid at the existing Morro Bay plant. The proposal also includes plans to increase the project to 1,000 MW at a later date if an agreement is reached between the developer and the state of California to purchase the additional power produced and additional transmission power is available.

In October 2015, the state of California passed the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 (SB-350), requiring the amount of electricity generated and sold to retail customers per year from eligible renewable energy resources be increased to 50 percent by Dec. 31, 2030. This project may provide additional renewable energy capacity to achieve its SB-350 goals, the developer said.

At the conclusion of the comment period for this public notice, BOEM will review the submissions received and undertake a completeness review for each of those submissions and a qualifications review for each of the nominating entities. BOEM will then make a determination as to whether competitive interest exists. If BOEM receives one or more indications of interest in acquiring a commercial wind lease from qualified entities that wish to compete for the Proposed Lease Area, BOEM may decide to move forward with the lease issuance process using competitive procedures. If BOEM receives no competing indications of interest, it may decide to move forward with the lease issuance process using noncompetitive procedures.

Should BOEM decide to proceed with issuing a lease in the Proposed Lease Area, whether competitively or noncompetitively, it will comply with all applicable requirements and provide the public with additional opportunities to provide input under applicable laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BOEM will also coordinate and consult, as appropriate, with relevant federal agencies, affected tribes, affected state agencies, and affected local governments during the lease development and issuance process.

The entire prospective lease area is about 106 square miles (67,963 acres) and consists of five OCS blocks and 17 partial OCS blocks.

Trident Winds said it will seek a long-term power purchase agreement or a build-own-transfer transaction with one or more load serving utilities. Initial commercial operation for the project is expected in the 2025 time frame.

The company said subsea export cable(s) will be used to export produced electricity to the Pacific Gas & Electric high voltage substation located adjacent to the Morro Bay power plant (MBPP). The MBPP was built in 1953 as an oil-fired plant cooled with seawater. The plant was subsequently converted to natural gas. The MBPP was decommissioned in February 2014 and is no longer operating.

The overall cost for the initial 650 MW net capacity wind project permitting, development and construction is estimated at $3.2 billion in 2015 dollars.

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