Just over a year ago, Rep. Jared Huffman and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland stood in front of Woodley Island’s iconic fisherman statue to announce the Biden-Harris Administration’s intent to bring offshore wind to Humboldt County’s shores. Today, Huffman joined local and state officials at the same spot to celebrate a partnership with Crowley Wind Services to bring offshore wind one step closer to reality.
I know, I know. We’ve been talking a lot about offshore wind energy recently but that’s because a lot has happened, especially in the last week!
Just yesterday, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District announced a partnership with Crowley to build a full-service terminal out on the Samoa Peninsula to support offshore wind development.
The 86-acre development, dubbed the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal, would be built at the defunct Samoa Pulp Mill site. The new facility – which would become the second-largest wind terminal in the United States – will support the manufacturing, installation and operation of offshore wind floating platforms.
“I just can’t say enough about the vision and determination and competency that you have brought to this journey so far, and all of it has brought us to a really wonderful milestone today,” Huffman said. “The confluence of port development and offshore wind is here. For years, I have advocated for both of these things but it is exciting to see them finally coming together in what is likely to be a huge windfall – no pun intended.”
Greg Dale, president of the Harbor District Board of Commissioners, called the partnership a “historic and transformational moment in the history of Humboldt County and the state of California.”
“Guided by the support and expertise of Crowley, the Port of Humboldt Bay now stands to be an international leader in the transition to renewable energy,” Dale continued. “Within the next few years, this project will generate high-skilled manufacturing and technical jobs, investments and clean energy that will extend for generations into the future. This project is just the beginning for Humboldt Bay and the potential for additional complementary projects on other underutilized sites throughout the Bay.”
Dale then invited Harbor District Executive Director Larry Oetker and Crowley’s Vice President of New Energy, Jeff Andreini, to approach the podium and sign the partnership agreement.
“We see this partnership as a blank canvas and opportunity to paint a beautiful picture that takes advantage of the qualities of this community, the industry and Crowley,” Andreini said. “Together, we can shape offshore wind for the West Coast of the United States that goes beyond just this terminal. … At Crowley we are proud and we are honored to be a partner with the Harbor District in a generational changing journey that will provide economic growth, jobs and a sustainable future for years to come.”
Andrew Meredith, president of the California Building and Construction Trades Council, highlighted the potential economic benefits associated with the project.
“The local dollar turns over so many times before it leaves the community when a local worker is earning dollars to construct projects like this,” he said. “This is a tremendous opportunity, not just for Humboldt County but the state of California. … Today is one of the first monumental steps in the right direction towards a renewable future.”
Fourth District Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass also took to the podium to talk about growing up locally. She recalled complaining about the smell of the old pulp mill with her sister – noting “this phrase is probably not correct anymore” – her father would say, “That’s the smell of money.”
“I can speak from the experience of what it was like to have the economic activity here [in the port],” she said. “My family’s restaurant and many other local businesses thrived – survived – thrived, and unfortunately, many went down at about the same time as we lost the industry. … We’ve been hopeful for a very long time … but everything takes time. …Today’s a great day to celebrate.”
Press release from Crowley Wind Services:
Crowley signed an agreement with the Port of Humboldt Bay to exclusively negotiate to be the developer and operator of a terminal to serve as California’s first hub to serve offshore wind energy installations.
Through Crowley’s Wind Services group, the company will enter into negotiations with the port to lease and serve as the port’s developer of the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal. Services there will support tenants in the manufacturing, installation and operation of offshore wind floating platforms, use of large heavy cargo vessels and providing crewing and marshalling services in the Pacific waters.
“Clean, renewable energy for Californians took a step forward through our partnership with the leaders of the Port of Humboldt Bay. Crowley looks forward to working together with the Humboldt Bay Harbor Recreation and Conservation District to formalize a lease and development plan,” said Bob Karl, senior vice president and general manager, wind services. “Through our collaboration, we can reach our shared commitment for sustainable development that gives the state and the nation a new source of energy that respects the environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”
This public-private partnership will support both federal and state government goals to develop more American offshore wind power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Department of Interior announced on Oct. 18 that waters off the coast of Humboldt Bay areas will be part of the first-ever offshore wind lease sale on the U.S. West Coast on Dec. 6.
The State of California has set a goal to create at least 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030. The Humboldt offshore wind areas alone are projected to provide 1.6 GW of energy, capable of supplying power to up 1.6 million homes. The federal lease auction also will include the Morro Bay area, which offers 3 GW of projected energy.
Utilizing a grant from the Humboldt County Headwaters Fund in 2021, the Port of Humboldt Bay developed a conceptual master plan for the site. That led to a $10.45 million grant from the California Energy Commission, to conduct of technical studies, preliminary design and pre-permitting activities. The Port anticipates completing permitting and design in mid-2024. The new agreement with Crowley focuses on a 98- acre Phase I, with options to expand on adjoining land in additional phases.
“This is a historic and transformational moment in the history of Humboldt County and the State of California,” said President Greg Dale of the Board of the Port of Humboldt Bay. “Guided by the support and expertise of Crowley, the Port of Humboldt Bay now stands to be an international leader in the transition to renewable energy. The Port will play a critical role not only in the Humboldt and Morro Bay Call Areas, but in all future offshore wind areas of the U.S. West Coast.”
“Within the next few years, this project will generate high-skill manufacturing and technical jobs, investments, and clean energy that will extend for generations into the future. And this project is just the beginning for Humboldt Bay, with the potential for additional complementary projects on other underutilized sites throughout the Bay.”
Humboldt Bay will mark Crowley’s second dedicated U.S. wind service terminal project. Design and engineering are underway in Salem, Massachusetts, for the Crowley terminal as part of a public-private partnership that will support offshore wind projects in New England.
Crowley is a privately held, U.S.-owned and -operated maritime, energy and logistics solutions company serving commercial and government sectors with more than $2.9 billion in annual revenues, over 170 vessels mostly in the Jones Act fleet and approximately 7,000 employees around the world – employing more U.S. mariners than any other company. The Crowley enterprise has invested more than $3 billion in maritime transport, which is the backbone of global trade and the global economy. As a global ship owner-operator and services provider with more than 130 years of innovation and a commitment to sustainability, the company serves customers in 36 nations and island territories through five business units: Crowley Logistics, Crowley Shipping, Crowley Solutions, Crowley Fuels and Crowley Wind Services. Additional information about Crowley, its business units and subsidiaries can be found at www.crowley.com.
About the Port of Humboldt Bay (Humboldt Bay Harbor District)
The Port of Humboldt Bay was established by the California Harbors and Navigation Code in 1970 with the express purpose to manage Humboldt Bay for the promotion of commerce, navigation, fisheries, recreation, and the protection of natural resources, and to acquire, construct, maintain, operate, develop, and regulate harbor works. Ancestral home to the Wiyot Peoples, Humboldt Bay is the second largest Bay in California and hosts a broad array of natural ecosystems and coastal industrial uses. The Bay has predominantly serviced the fishing, timber, and wood products industries, each of which will continue to play a critical role in the port’s future. In 2021, the Port initiated a process to develop a world-class heavy-lift marine-terminal and green port development on a 170-acre site designed to serve as the West Coast’s first offshore wind manufacturing, installation, marshalling, and operations hub. The District has committed to having a project labor agreement on the construction of the new terminal. More information about the Harbor District can be found here: http://humboldtbay.org/.