June 19, 2024
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Wind power project great for San Luis Obispo County


Just a year ago, Dynergy, a Texas-based energy firm, shut down the aging power plant that’s loomed over the city of Morro Bay for decades, idling the three 450-foot-tall smokestacks that are part of the city’s skyline.

Now Trident Winds, a British company, has proposed something new in the field of power production: a floating array of 100 large wind turbines to be located 15 miles offshore that would send as much as 1,000 megawatts to Central Coast and Northern California power users.

The proposal by Trident has a long way to go — it needs Dynergy’s approval to utilize its power lines, a green light from Morro Bay officials, and a slew of other regulatory permissions that will take five years or more to get.

Dynergy itself has been working on a separate wave energy project for the past year or more.

The region has a long history with wind turbine development.

Jim  Dehlsen, a former UCSB professor, launched two wind turbine companies, Zond, now part of GE and Clipper Windpower which operated in Carpinteria and was sold to United Technologies. That operation has been shut down.

The floating wind turbines in Morro Bay would effectively replace the conventional power plant that’s long been shut down. It would also become the third major alternative power plant in SLO County, turning the Central Coast into a diversified hub for the state’s sustainable power future.

With two major solar farms and the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant near Port San Luis, SLO County already punches far above its weight in terms of low fossil fuel power production.

The technology Trident is proposing has been proven but is expensive to install. A similar facility is planned offshore at Koos Bay, Ore., and will provide a key test of economic viability.

There’s a very long way indeed from a proposal to actually producing power.

But the state is determined to be an alternative energy leader and SLO County has embraced the idea of leadership in clean energy as a way forward.

Game on.

Leffert will be missed

For the second time in weeks, a tri-county academic leader has said they are moving on. Nancy Leffert, who made an impressive effort at better connecting Antioch University’s Santa Barbara campus to the community, has announced her retirement.

On her watch, Antioch made a strong outreach effort to the South Coast’s Hispanic community, she strengthened her ties to nonprofits, offering classes to raise the quality of leadership, and attracted a unique partnership with the Hutton Parker Foundation to find a new home.

Leffert is a nationally recognized scholar in the field of childhood development and she leaves a strong legacy.

Like CSU Channel Islands President Richard Rush, who also is leaving at the end of this year after an impressive run, she will be very hard to replace.