OffShore Wind Energy in California: First Permit Request Filed

By Sheryl Hamlin

Triggered by a lease application from Trident Winds in January 2016, Governor Brown requested the formation of the California Renewable Energy Task Force, whose first meeting was held in conjunction with the BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management), a federal energy agency, in October 2016. The lease request was submitted to BOEM in California.

There are overlapping spheres of influence in a wind energy, including the California Energy Commission (CEC), CalISO (grid operator), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Department of Defense (DoD), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), just to name a few.

On March 3, 2017, the first Public Workshop was held hosted by the CEC. Of the two CEC commissioners participating in the panel, Karen Douglas and David Hochschild, Ms. Douglas is also the presiding member in the Mission Rock Energy Project. She moderated the workshop. To listen to the entire workshop click here. Click here for handouts.

Jean Thurston from BOEM presented a technical overview of floating wind power, saying they expected the lease to be for a 25 year term. She described a seven to ten year process leading to construction and operation as shown in this slide.

Source: BOEM

Scott Flint, BOEM, described data basin information along the coast of California, physical data gathering from the ocean, what resources are valuable for wind energy, outreach to the scientific and academic community, as well as the state, federal and international jurisdictions of the ocean. To subscribe to the Wind Energy electronic communication List Serv, click here.

The diagram below gives a crisp picture of an off-shore wind farm.

Source: Scott Flint, BOEM

Walt Musial from NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory described the potential for off-shore wind energy in California. He explained that NREL was formed via an interagency agreement with BOEM and the DOE.

He said that initial wind farms were fixed platforms, but now the future is all floating. There have been prototypes with multiple turbines. He said that the distance from the shore is a primary siting factor due to visual considerations. He said that prices are dropping rapidly for this type of energy and by 2025 there will be a wind market in California. Unlike East coast winds, he said California winds to not vary laterally. New turbines operate at low and high speeds which allow adjustments for varying wind conditions. The full report is here.

Jeff Billinton from CalISO, the grid operator, said that they are conferring with the CEC for transmission planning and the CPUC for procurement and planning. Now they are dealing with an oversupply of solar which means negative costs, so CalISO is working with the CPUC to manage this oversupply. As a result of SB 350, the West Coast is now considered an energy region.

Jim Stritholt, Conservation Biology Institute, could have talked for a week about the on-line data basin analysis tool. Launched in 2010 with regular updates following, the web application allows people to work collaboratively. The tool is built around spatial data, but does not require a GIS (Geographic Information System) professional to be able to take advantage of its capabilities. They have 28,000 layers hosted on Amazon AWS but can also access 100,000 federal sets. The site is secure and configurable. He said that their optimization allows “what-if” scenarios to be calculated in 30 to 60 seconds that formerly took hours. The web application (no software required other than browser) can be found at

Steve Chung from the US Department of the Navy, said that the DoD has been active with NGO’s and the State of California in planning for wind energy. They are mapping areas which are DoD equities to help wind planners. In the map below, much of Ventura Coast is marked as DoD Equity.

Source: DoD

A sub-panel discussed ‘Developers Perspective on Necessary Data’. These panelists included:

  • Martin Goff, Statoil
  • Joao Metelo and Kevin Banister, Principle Power
  • Bill Toman, CalWave
  • Alla Weinstein, Trident Winds
  • Jeff Kehne, Magellan Wind
  • Elisabeth-Anne Treseder, DONG Energy


Alla Weinstein noted that their proposed wind installation will utilize the existing tunnel to connect to the PGE substation, which is a plus for the environment. Also, there will be many jobs for twenty years. Note that Morro Bay has been devastated economically by the loss of the decommissioned power plant. Ms. Weinstein said there were 33 permits necessary and they are continually meeting with fishermen.

In conclusion, they said “The Future of off-shore wind is bright and is floating” and to pay attention to Sacramento, because the goal for renewable may shift from 50% to 100% as it did in Hawaii.

There were notable comments from the audience. Residents of Morro Bay want an on-site meeting, while fishermen are concerned that once one farm is approved, many will follow to the detriment of the fishing industry in California.

Click sherylhamlin dot com for information about the author.

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7 Responses to OffShore Wind Energy in California: First Permit Request Filed

  1. William Hicks March 15, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Under a President Trump Administration, could “decommissioned” power plants be recommissioned?

  2. William Hicks March 15, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    What future does BOEM have in a President Trump administration?

  3. William Hicks March 15, 2017 at 10:21 am

    I was in charge of all Pest Management for the Los Angeles Unified School District for a number of years. While during my tenure, I was challenged with the health concerns of both feral pigeons and, more important, Sea Gull’s. In the case of Sea Gull’s, they are a “protected specie” in California and I was limited in controlling them with rarely more than just discouraging them to filthy up school grounds and outdoor eating areas.

    Wind turbines have been proven to kill the very birds I was not allowed to harm in any way? How is it that Moonbeams desires to suck up to “green energy” sources trump the law?

    It’s only a guess on my part, but it smells similarly to the stink of obama crony capitalism.

    • Norseman March 20, 2017 at 4:11 am

      That’s a fact
      Folks to occupied with Trump, meanwhile if they read your statement they would understand its MoonBeam and Obamama buracriciies that are current number one prob. Get out of office PLEASE MoonBeam. I don’t care which party! They are one in the same. How about a Independent!?

  4. Sheryl Hamlin March 15, 2017 at 9:57 am

    It is clear where this is going. California’s major product for the rest of the century will be energy … supplying anyone who can connect to the grid.


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