Everyone in Coos County appreciates Coos Bay, the bay itself. It creates jobs and income for the fishing industry, shipping industry, travel and recreation industry, and for the people who grow and harvest oysters and sand shrimp. Since the decline of the timber industry our area has struggled to attract an industry, like the timber industry, that will provide good paying jobs for working-class folks.
The good news is a new robust industry ideally suited for Coos Bay is looking for a place to land on the northern California or southern Oregon coast. The floating wind turbine industry wants to harvest the energy created by the strong wind naturally occurring off the coast. This abundant and sustained resource has been described as “the Saudi Arabia” of wind energy globally.
We all need to roll out the welcome mat and promote Coos Bay as the ideal port for this new industry. A recent UC Berkeley study found this industry will require over 13,000 workers for the construction phase, lasting until 2050, deploying the wind turbines. Then over 4000 permanent operation and maintenance workers. The wind turbines will be placed off northern California to feed the demand for renewable energy created by the passage last fall of SB 100 by the California legislature. The new law requires California to source all (100 percent) of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045.
You may remember Principle Power chose Coos Bay as the best location to conduct a wind turbine pilot program. Coos Bay was chosen in part because our main highway bridge, the McCullough Bridge, is far inland and the North Spit has good siting potential for the new industry. According to Principle, the reason it left Coos Bay was because it could not find a purchaser for the energy its wind turbines would create, primarily because the cost of wind energy is more expensive than the power we can get from Bonneville with its dams on the Columbia River. A utility company in Eureka was interested, so Principle moved its operation there.
With the passage of SB 100 in California, there is strong market demand for wind energy from floating wind turbines. Coos Bay still has the opportunity to be the location where all the wind turbines are built and maintained for placement off the Northern California Coast to feed the needs of California for renewable energy.