California Plans First West Coast Wind Port 

California to develop wind port in Humboldt Bay
California plans to develop a wind port at Humboldt Bay in the northern part of the state (US Army Corps of Engineers file photo)

Published Mar 14, 2022 7:51 PM by The Maritime Executive

California approved the steps to begin planning for the West Coast’s first wind port. The effort is tied into the current program by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to open up key locations along the California coast for offshore wind farm development.

Tied to the effort to launch one of California’s first offshore wind farms near Humboldt Country in the northern part of the state, the California Energy Commission (CEC) at the end of last week approved a $10.5 million grant for renovations at the Port of Humboldt Bay to support offshore wind activities. According to the Commission, investing in offshore wind port infrastructure is critical to opening the opportunity for offshore wind development in California, with the opportunity to initially support the efforts through the development of a wind port.

"Humboldt Bay has the optimal conditions to serve as the primary port for the offshore wind industry for the entire West Coast,” said Harbor District board president Greg Dale. “We are fully dedicated to prepare our port for this remarkable opportunity and we are honored to be working with the California Energy Commission to launch California into the future of energy production."

Humboldt Bay is the second-largest natural bay in California with commercial operations including wood imports and a historic industrial base in addition to the recreation activities in the area. Once renovated, the new Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal will be capable of handling large heavy cargo vessels, offshore wind floating platform development, and integration and decommissioning, and other maritime activities.

Activities funded by this grant include completing preliminary engineering and design work, conducting site surveys and special studies, preparing necessary environmental impact assessments, implementing early construction, and initiating environmental mitigation measures. The funds may also be used to attract matching funds from federal grants and to contribute towards project construction. 

The CEC also recently kicked off a process to create a strategic plan for offshore wind energy in federal waters. As part of developing the strategic plan, the CEC in coordination with relevant state and local agencies is required to map out improvements to waterfront facilities that could support a range of floating offshore wind energy development activities, including construction and staging of foundations, manufacturing of components, final assembly, and long-term operations and maintenance facilities.

The plans under development for the Humboldt Bay Floating Offshore Wind Farm project a 1.6 GW offshore wind power project. The project is currently in the announced stage with BOEM in January 2022 releasing its draft environmental assessment for the approximately 200 square mile site. The projected timeline envisions construction beginning as early as 2024 with commercial operation in 2028.