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Navy puts the brakes on proposed wind farm near Morro Bay

Karen Garcia Feb 1, 2018 4:00 AM

A pilot wind farm project off the coast of Morro Bay is on pause as its proposed location is within U.S. Navy territory.

Alla Weinstein—the CEO of Trident Winds, the developer that put forth the project—said that the U.S. Navy released a map and compatibility assessment late last year that indicated conflicts in federal waters along the Central Coast.

Wind turbines were slated for installation just outside of state waters, which end 3 miles from the shoreline. According to the map, the wind farm would be in an area of the ocean that would conflict with naval operations.

But the issue isn't stopping Weinstein and other developers that have expressed interest in the renewable energy project.

"The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [BOEM] and the California Energy Commission have been working with the Department of Defense on identifying means to allow some offshore wind development in Central California," she said.

The project was kicked into gear in 2015 when Trident Winds submitted a lease request for the ocean floor.

The company singled out the Central Coast because of its existing energy plants—Morro Bay Power Plant (decommissioned in February 2014) and Diablo Nuclear Power Plant (expected to be decommissioned by 2025)—that could easily connect the potential wind farm to the electric grid.

A state task force including the California Coastal Commission and BOEM held a round of public meetings and workshops early last year to discuss putting the wind farm near Morro Bay.

BOEM Public Affairs Officer John Romero said the task force is having on-going discussions with the Navy relating to the Central Coast.

"BOEM and the state of California continue our work together with stakeholders to identify and collect relevant data and information on existing ocean resources and uses off California as we work to identify possible areas suitable for future offshore wind leasing," Romero said.Δ