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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a request to determine whether there is competitive interest in leasing an area offshore Oregon that Principle Power Inc. has proposed for a pilot-scale floating wind energy project.

Last year, Seattle, Wash.-based Principle Power was one of seven developers to receive a U.S. Department of Energy grant to explore offshore wind projects in state and federal waters.

According to BOEM, Principle Power’s proposed WindFloat Pacific Project, which would be located about 16 nautical miles west of Coos Bay, Ore., in about 1,200 feet of water, is designed to generate 30 MW of electricity from five "WindFloat" units, each equipped with a 6 MW offshore wind turbine. The proposed lease area covers about 15 square miles.

BOEM says it must assess whether there are other parties interested in developing commercial wind facilities in the same area in order to determine whether it is appropriate to issue a lease on a non-competitive basis, or whether a competitive process is required.

In addition to inquiring about competitive interest, BOEM is seeking public comment on the proposal, its potential environmental consequences, and the use of the area in which the proposed project would be located.

BOEM has published a notice in the Federal Register, which includes a 30-day public comment period.

"Today's announcement represents an important step forward in the president's all-of-the-above energy strategy as we seek to facilitate renewable, clean energy generation off America's West Coast," says BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. "We will work closely with the state of Oregon and stakeholders to share information and resolve issues in order to make responsible wind energy development in federal waters a reality."   

BOEM says the Windfloat Pacific Project is the latest in a series of lease initiatives the agency has undertaken to support offshore wind energy development, including one competitive auction for Massachusetts and Rhode Island (won by Deepwater Wind) and one for Virginia (won by Virginia Electric and Power Co., a Dominion subsidiary).

According to BOEM, the two competitive lease sales generated $5.4 million in high bids for 277,549 acres on the U.S. Continental Shelf. Combined, these areas could generate enough renewable energy to power 1.7 million homes, the agency adds. More competitive auctions for wind energy areas offshore Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts will be held over the next year.



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