Principle Power Plans First Offshore Wind in U.S. Pacific Waters

Feb 05, 2014 3:56 pm ET

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Principle Power Inc., a wind-energy developer backed by the Spanish oil producer Repsol SA, is planning a 30-megawatt wind farm off the Oregon coast, the first in U.S. Pacific waters.

The company received approval from the U.S. Interior Department to submit a formal proposal for the project, the agency said today in a statement. The project will use five floating platforms with 6-megawatt turbines.

The offshore projects under development on the U.S. East Coast typically use turbines planted in the ocean floor. The Principle project may validate an emerging technology that would simplify the process of installing power equipment at sea, said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“There are no floating offshore wind-energy projects in the United States,” Jewell said today on a conference call. “How they interact with the fishing industry, how they interact with the marine ecosystem, all of these things need to be understood.”

A 12-megawatt floating wind farm was approved in January by state regulators in Maine. The University of Maine tested a small-scale floating turbine in the state last year and a floating project has been proposed for the Great Lakes.

The agency’s Bureau of Land Management has issued five leases for wind farms off the coasts of Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Virginia, and additional leases may be issued later this year, according to the statement.

Principle Power installed in April 2012 a prototype of its floating turbine platform off the coast of Portugal as part of a venture with Repsol and Energias de Portugal SA.

The West Coast has more than 800 gigawatts of offshore generating capacity, the agency said in the statement, citing research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

--Editors: Will Wade, Steven Frank