Applications for Offshore Wind Energy Development in State Waters

Jan 18, 2024 | Renewable Energy

The Commission is processing an application for a floating offshore wind demonstration project in state waters (see Figure 1) offshore of Vandenberg Space Force Base (formerly Vandenberg Air Force Base). The project applicant is CADEMO Corporation (formerly Cierco). The application is for the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of a floating offshore wind electrical generation facility. A summary of the application is included in the expanding sections below. The application review will include a comprehensive environmental impact review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

The Commission and the U. S. Department of the Air Force will prepare a joint Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) for the CADEMO Offshore Wind Energy Demonstration Project. The agencies are in the early stages of the EIR/EIS process and anticipate releasing the Notice of Preparation/Notice of Intent to begin the public scoping process in the summer of 2024.

Map depicting the key elements of the Cademo Project in Santa Barbara County

Figure 1. Proposed CADEMO Project Layout

Offshore Wind Application

Key Features of the CADEMO Project

Applicant CADEMO Corporation
Application submitted  August 21, 2019
Scope Demonstrate two different floating wind base technologies by installing four 12-15 MW floating wind turbines in the area
Turbine coordinates
Turbine Latitude Longitude
1 (T1) 34.59061535 -120.70016552
2 (T2) 34.58022300 -120.70154258
3 (T3) 34.56964036 -120.70131307
4 (T4) 34.56000143 -120.69878845
Offshore cables Export cables will transmit electricity from the southernmost turbine (T4) to an onshore connection point. The preferred option for the CADEMO Project is to take the export cables to a landing point west of the boat dock (just south of Point Arguello) and then connected overland (by wood pole) to the grid substation
Onshore It is anticipated that the onshore substation and control building will be located near to the point of cable landfall (by the directional drill site) on VSFB. All required works are standard electricity network works (i.e. the same for any other conventional electrical connections) with existing facilities utilized where possible
Application status Complete on July 21, 2020

CADEMO Project Description

Applicant: CADEMO Corporation

Application submitted:  August 21, 2019

Application status: Complete on July 21, 2020

Scope: Demonstrate two different floating wind base technologies by installing four 12-15 MW floating wind turbines in the area

Next steps: Proceed with EIR

Map depicting the key elements of the Cademo Project in Santa Barbara County

Figure 1. Proposed CADEMO Project Layout

CADEMO Corporation is a renewable energy development company based in Palm Springs, California that has floating wind project activities in the United Kingdom. In August 2019, CADEMO applied to the Commission for a lease to develop an offshore wind demonstration project in state waters west of VSFB in Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, California. The CADEMO project would consist of the installation and operation of four floating offshore wind turbines that would be moored to the seafloor, the nearest of which will be 2.5 nautical miles from shore. Each turbine will be capable of producing 12–15 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity, and a maximum of 60 MW could be generated from the four turbines. The four wind turbines would be connected in a series with inter-array cables, and a subsea export cable would be installed under the seafloor from the most southern turbine to an onshore cable landing site located south of Point Arguello within VSFB. An HDPE cable duct would be installed at the cable landing site using a horizontal directional drilling method. The export cable would eventually be pulled in through the duct from offshore to onshore and connected to a new onshore substation within VSFB. An onshore overhead power line would be installed from the new substation to the existing surf substation approximately 11 miles to the north.

The proposal is intended to be a demonstration project and therefore, focuses on testing existing engineering concepts for the floating foundations of the wind turbines. Each turbine will be supported by a floating platform base, which is more feasible than fixed-bottom foundations off the coast of California due to the deeper west coast nearshore waters. The floating turbine substructures have mooring systems that anchor them to the seabed. The CADEMO demonstration project will test the barge and tension leg platform technologies.

CADEMO will establish a fund to fully decommission the project’s infrastructure and onshore overhead power lines at the end of the demonstration period. Construction of the floating platforms is expected to occur at the Port of San Francisco. The constructed platforms will be towed to the Port of Los Angeles where construction of the wind turbines and integration of the turbines and floating platforms is expected to occur. Construction staging of work vessels, equipment, and building materials will also occur at the Port of Los Angeles.

Overview of Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) Process

Outreach and Environmental Review Process

In 2019, the Commission received two applications for offshore wind demonstration projects in the same area and with substantially the same purpose and scope of work. BW-IDEOL withdrew its application in February 2023. The following is an overview of staff’s approach to the environmental review and the stakeholder outreach process. Before embarking on the CEQA process, staff prepared a PEA that described the project area and components of both projects and a preliminary assessment of environmental impacts. Staff determined that using a combination of an “early public consultation” scoping approach with some preliminary project analysis was the best approach to the environmental review for these two projects. The PEA was intended to provide preliminary insight into affected resources to help guide early public input on the CEQA scoping process. This expanded scoping and public outreach approach helped the Commission develop the appropriate project scope and analysis, and generate ideas for project alternatives. It also increased transparency and public participation as compared to a typical CEQA process.

This approach helped with all the following components:

  • Gain early awareness and participation with the upcoming EIR process with key stakeholders and the public.
  • Advancing the discussion of the policy/science/impacts/benefits of the projects.
  • Enhancing transparency.
  • Education about the project specifics and resource impacts for stakeholders and decision-makers.
  • Gain additional information from early public input to provide a more informed NOP scoping process and maximize a greater range of public input for the preparation of an EIR.

Sequence of Commission Process for Environmental Review

  • Initiate Tribal Outreach and Consultation: Consistent with AB 52 and our Tribal Consultation Policy, staff will initiate tribal outreach using the list of culturally-affiliated Tribes from the Native American Heritage Commission, and initiate government-to-government consultation with Tribes who have requested notification. Tribal outreach will occur concurrently with the early public consultation / scoping process.
  • Environmental Justice: Consistent with our Environmental Justice Policy, staff will prepare an Environmental Justice Checklist and initiate outreach to environmental justice communities and organizations. This outreach will occur concurrently with the early public consultation / scoping process.
  • Early Public Consultation and Scoping Document: Staff will prepare the early public consultation and scoping document, along with a preliminary assessment of environmental impact considerations. This effort will be guided by the Appendix G Environmental Checklist of the CEQA guidelines.
  • Commission Approval for Statement of Interest for Environmental Consultant and NOP: Staff will seek the services of an environmental consultant to assist with the preparation of an EIR by requesting that the Commission authorize staff to advertise and then execute a contract for those services with a qualified bidder. Staff will also prepare the NOP that will be circulated for 30 days for agency and public review and hold a public meeting during the comment period.
  • Draft EIR: Staff, along with the environmental consultant team, will prepare a Draft EIR that will be circulated for a minimum 60-day public comment period. Staff will hold at least one public meeting to receive comments on the Draft EIR.
  • Final EIR: After the circulation of the Draft EIR, staff will prepare a Final EIR that will include responses to comments. The Final EIR will be prepared and circulated at least 30 days before the Commission considers whether to certify the Final EIR and act on a project at a public meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Why is offshore wind important in California?

    The Commission intends to be a leader in California’s transition to a clean energy future. As such, the Commission looks forward to working in partnership to figure out the best path forward to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, taking action to combat climate change, and ensuring that our environment and economy can thrive together through a thoughtful, comprehensive, and just transition. Meeting California’s climate goals (SB 32, 2016 and SB 100, 2018) requires focused action to quickly transform the state’s energy system away from fuels that generate greenhouse gases. California needs to commit to the development of energy storage and a diverse range of renewable energy, including offshore wind. A recently updated study by National Renewable Energy Laboratory indicates that areas off the West Coast have strong potential for generating large amounts of energy. That study also found that the hours when offshore wind energy would be generated most complement those of solar power in California and can play a major role in helping California meets its renewable energy goals. Given the depth of the ocean along the California coast, floating offshore wind is the most suitable technology to harness this resource.

    The Public Trust Doctrine provides that tide and submerged lands and the beds of lakes, streams, and other navigable waterways, are to be held in trust by the state for the benefit of the people of California. The Commission is dedicated to safeguarding and promoting the public’s access rights to waterways and the coastline.

  • What is the CEQA Process?

    The Commission is the lead agency for CEQA and will prepare an EIR for the CADEMO wind demonstration project. Staff will develop a separate early consultation and scoping document that will include a preliminary environmental assessment of affected resources. Staff will route a notice through the State Clearinghouse and the public will have 30-days (or potentially longer) to provide public comment on this document. Then, staff will prepare a staff report and the Commission will consider, at a public meeting, whether to hire an environmental consultant to prepare an EIR. If the Commission approves, staff will prepare a Notice of Preparation (NOP) to solicit further public input on the information gathered during the previous scoping and consultation process. Staff will route the NOP through the State Clearinghouse, provide a minimum 30-day public comment period, and convene a public meeting to gather comments for the EIR. Staff will then prepare a draft EIR that will include a minimum 60-day public comment period. Staff will also convene a public meeting to gather comments on the draft EIR. The last step is for the Commission to hold a public meeting to consider whether to certify the final EIR.

  • How is this different than the BOEM call area process?

    Staff is evaluating two applications for floating offshore wind projects in state waters near Vandenberg Air Force Base. These applications are completely independent of the activities within federal waters, which are managed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

    In October 2018, BOEM published a Call for Information and Nominations to obtain proposals from companies interested in commercial wind energy leases within certain offshore areas off Central and Northern California. There are three call areas. One is in Northern California (Humboldt Call area) and two are in Central California (Morro Bay and Diablo Canyon call areas). BOEM works closely with states regarding offshore energy development and coordinates federal-state task forces. One way that BOEM coordinates planning for potential offshore renewable energy leasing is through the BOEM California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, a partnership of state, local, and federally recognized tribal governments and federal agencies. The task force serves as a forum to discuss stakeholder issues and concerns; exchange data and information about biological and physical resources, ocean uses and priorities; and facilitate early and continual dialogue and collaboration opportunities.

  • Why is State Lands involved in this process?

    The Commission is involved because it owns and manages the submerged public lands in California, extending from the mean high-tide line out to 3 nautical miles from shore and because it has received the two applications. Any offshore renewable energy project involving state waters under the Commission’s jurisdiction requires a lease from the Commission.

  • What other agencies need to issue permits for offshore renewable energy projects?
    • Department of Defense (DOD)
    • U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE)
    • Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB)
    • U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
    • NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
    • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)
    • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
    • California Coastal Commission (CCC)
    • Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB)
    • California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)
    • California Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO)
    • California Coast Guard
    • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
    • County of Santa Barbara
  • What does a Complete and Incomplete application mean?

    An application is complete when the applicant has provided sufficient information to allow staff to locate and describe the nature and extent of the state land or resource, determine fair rental value, identify the level and scope of CEQA review, and determine whether the use is in the best interest of the state.

    An application will remain incomplete if the information needed for staff to make one or more of the above determinations is missing or insufficient.

    Even though an application may be deemed complete, additional information is often required before a Commission action to supplement, amplify, or clarify information already received.

  • What other states have permitted offshore renewable energy development?
    • Delaware
    • Massachusetts
    • Maryland
    • North Carolina
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • Rhode Island
    • Virginia

Previous Staff Reports

10/21/2021 (32) - Consider delegation of authority for the Executive Officer to solicit Statements of Interest for consultant services, negotiate fair and reasonable prices, and award and execute agreements for the preparation of environmental documentation and mitigation monitoring for two proposed offshore wind energy projects in the Pacific Ocean, near Vandenberg Space Force Base, Santa Barbara County.

Latest updates

  • On May 3, 2023, the Commission selected Aspen Environmental Group as its environmental consultant to prepare the CADEMO project EIR.

 

Contacts

Lease Application Contact
Shahed Meshkati
Supervising Mineral Resources Engineer
562.590.5401
stateapplications.OSW@slc.ca.gov

CEQA Contact
Jason Ramos
Senior Environmental Scientist
916.574.1814
Jason.Ramos@slc.ca.gov

 

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