Report: $124 Million Needed to Transform Port of Humboldt for Offshore Wind


Hywind floating turbine demo off the coast of Karmøy, Norway. - COURTESY OF STATOIL
  • Courtesy of Statoil
  • Hywind floating turbine demo off the coast of Karmøy, Norway.

It will cost more than $124 million to build a new multipurpose terminal in Humboldt Bay to support offshore wind energy, according to a preliminary cost estimate prepared for the Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District.

The district’s board of commissioners is slated to meet in a special session tomorrow, first in closed session to continue negotiations over the purchase of seven parcels on the Samoa Peninsula, then in open session to receive the cost estimate report prepared by the port consulting firm Moffatt and Nichol and begin planning grant applications.

The prospect of a floating wind farm being built 28 miles off Humboldt’s coast got a big push forward in May, when Gov. Gavin Newsom and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will offer lease auctions as early as next year for two stretches of coastal waters off the North Coast and northwest of Morro Bay.

If completed, the project would initially generate enough power to supply Humboldt County’s electric grid, with the potential to expand if infrastructure were developed to outsource the electricity to other areas of the state. But a key component of the plan's viability would be transforming Humboldt Bay into a port that could accommodate the massive 750-plus-foot-tall turbines for needed repairs, with the hopes the region might even become a manufacturing hub, which would create scores of well-paying jobs and reverberating economic impacts.

In his budget proposal, Newsom included $11 million for infrastructure improvements to the Port of Humboldt Bay, which the district hopes to leverage to secure another $44 million in matching federal funds. Based on the estimates to be presented to commissioners tomorrow, it looks like the district would need to secure another roughly $70 million.

According to a staff report, it will take an estimated $40 million just to demolish the existing wharf and replace it with one strong enough to service the turbines, which weigh some 500 tons each. Dredging and earth filling efforts would run another estimated $7.3 million, in addition to $21 million in indirect construction costs and $8.8 million for upland improvements.

After receiving the cost estimate report, the commission is slated to review a draft grant application and discuss application preparations.

The closed session portion of the meeting will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the open special session at 5:30. Details on how to join the virtual meeting can be found here.

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