Floating Wind Farm Proposed On Ocean Off Westport
A Mercer Island company has submitted a proposal for a 2,000-megawatt wind farm several dozen miles off Westport, a Washington Coast city once known as the “salmon fishing capitol of the world” and which recently passed a resolution “vigorously” opposing just such a development after hearing concerns from fishermen.
Shaped like a large curling breaker about to crash ashore, Trident Wind’s Olympic Wind project would spread 100 to 200 floating turbines over 350 square miles of ocean, anchoring them in waters 1,900 to 4,300 feet deep and plugging into the grid via a substation near Ocean Shores or just south of Westport.
The “unsolicited lease request” to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean “Energy Management was filed March 28 and announced this morning.
If eventually permitted, it would be the first wind farm off Washington, “taking take advantage of a vast offshore wind resource that will deliver approximately 2,000 Megawatts of carbon-free energy” and “generate significant jobs and economic benefits for local communities while helping Washington meet its ambitious climate goals and clean energy targets,” according to Trident.
Certainly how we get energy is an increasingly pressing concern, but in January the idea of an ocean-based farm off its shores hit turbulence when the Westport City Council passed Resolution 966, which leads off with the “vital” importance of recreational and commercial fishing industries.
Before the council voted, they heard from Phil Anderson, the former director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and owner of the charter boat Monte Carlo, who supported the resolution, as did the president of the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association, a former state representative and a sport angler who moors her boat at the Westport Marina.
One worry is how the project might impact the tuna grounds, and mapping based on the state Marine Spatial Plan shows it would overlap multiple fisheries, though Trident says most recreational and commercial fishing occurs “farther inshore.” There are also numerous ESA-listed marine mammal, seabird and fish stocks to consider.
According to Trident, the next step is for BOEM, which oversees green energy projects in federal waters on the continental shelf, to “conduct an initial review to confirm the applicant meets the agency’s legal, technical, and financial qualifications to hold a lease on the Outer Continental Shelf for commercial offshore wind energy development. Following confirmation of qualifications, BOEM will issue a public notice of a request for interest to determine if competitive interest exists for the proposed site.”
The company previously wanted to develop a smaller wind farm to the north, in waters overlapped by the Quinault Indian Nation U&A area, but that appears to have fallen through. Trident is also working on a project off California’s Central Coast dubbed Castle Wind.