The wind resource beyond Humboldt Bay is among the best in the United States, with strong, consistent wind speeds that are ideal for commercial development. There’s just one problem: electrical transmission.
Getting the power from the floating offshore turbines to the shore is one thing; getting the power to communities throughout the region and across the state is another. Wind developers can run big, subsea cables from their offshore wind projects to land with relative ease, but once that power comes ashore it encounters an electrical grid that wasn’t designed to handle it.
“This is going to take many years,” Rep. Jared Huffman told the Outpost in a recent phone interview. “Anyone who thinks that we are very close to manufacturing these huge turbines, getting the clean power onto the grid and adding these thousands of jobs might be disappointed. This is going to take close to a decade to really bring it all forward, but I’m hoping we can speed that up.”
However, the development of offshore wind is completely dependent on California’s transmission capabilities. Those issues must be resolved before offshore wind can move forward, Huffman said.
“The developers don’t know how many of these floating platforms they’ll even be able to install until they know whether there’s enough transmission to move the power onto the grid,” he continued. “To me, that’s by far the most important bottleneck here. Until you have all that figured out, you really don’t know a lot about the economics of the project. When you’re trying to negotiate community benefits and other things, you can begin those conversations now, but you can’t sign on the dotted line until you know how big the project is, how much it’s going to cost, how profitable it’s going to be. It all depends on all of these details that tie back to questions about transmission.”
Read More

On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved forming two ad hoc committees to work on offshore wind-related issues, authorized the County Administrative Officer to execute a $851,500 grant agreement for offshore wind activity, and enacted agreements with the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District, the city of Eureka and other local and tribal agencies to collaborate on port and wind development.
Offshore wind in Humboldt County is still in a very early stage, though California North Floating LLC placed the winning bids for the area where turbines would be placed roughly 20 miles off the coast of Eureka. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is still reviewing the bids, but once the leases are granted, the site must be surveyed and a plethora of permits must be issued.
“There’ll be a couple years of site assessments and surveys. After that, the concept of operation plan process will begin,” Scott Adair, Humboldt County’s director of economic development, said. “We are many years away from actual turbines being put into the water.”
Read More

On October 27th Crowley Wind Services signed an agreement with the Port of Humboldt Bay to exclusively negotiate to be the developer and operator of a terminal to serve as California's first hub for offshore wind energy installations.

If an agreement is reached, Crowley will be the exclusive developer/operator of the wind terminal at Humboldt Bay.

In an interview with the American Journal of Transportation, Jeff Andreini, Crowley Wind Services's Vice President, described the future terminal, saying “heavy lift ships will be used for the construction of the terminals. There will be heavy lift cranes that will … be doing the actual construction of the turbine. So, the terminal will do the construction of the floaters. The floaters will actually be built in Humboldt Bay and not in a foreign country.


There might be materials that might come from Asia, but the pre-construction will potentially (take place) in either San Francisco or Los Angeles and would be shipped to Humboldt Bay where the actual buildout will take place.” 

Read More

In the United States 17 offshore wind sites are under development in the Atlantic, from Cape Cod at the north end down to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Once completed these wind farms will create a network of turbines along the East Coast continental shelf like nothing else on Earth.
While nobody knows what toll the looming structures might take on seabirds, scientists say gannets may be especially vulnerable. North American populations have stopped expanding over the past decade. Scientists pin the leveling off on warming oceans near their breeding grounds that have altered their prey base. Here, on their wintering grounds, climate change is evident, too. A decade ago Patteson and I would never have seen shrimp boats in January: Back then the North Carolina shrimp harvest was negligible in cold winter waters. Now nearly 40 percent of the annual harvest is caught between December and March. 

To much fanfare, two foreign multinational corporations combined to spend more than $331 million on winning bids for the chance to develop more than 207 square miles of ocean off Humboldt Bay into two floating offshore wind farms.
But the auctions also represent just a very early step in what promises to be a long process fraught with possible pitfalls and hurdles, potential risks and rewards, for Humboldt Bay and beyond. Here's a quick look at the road ahead.
Read More