Castle Wind

Nothing like it exists in the world yet, but Castle Wind says technology borrowed from oil drilling will help construct a wind farm in the deep waters off the coast of California.

Monterey Bay Community Power is fast outgrowing its name. 

The agency was founded two years ago to pool together the buying power of ratepayers in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. Since then the cost savings and MBCP’s emphasis on emission-free sources of electricity have proven attractive to communities throughout California's central coast. 

The governments of 10 jurisdictions are in the process of joining. The list includes six cities in San Luis Obispo County: Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Paso Robles and Pismo Beach. 

In Santa Barbara County, the cities of Goleta and Guadalupe are enrolling and so is the county itself, which means that people who live in unincorporated Santa Barbara County will soon become MBCP customers. 

The city of Del Rey Oaks, which declined to participate in 2017, has now voted to become part of the agency.

As one of 19 community choice aggregation agencies throughout California, MBCP’s job is to bulk buy electricity on behalf of ratepayers. The legacy electric utility in the Central Coast region, Pacific Gas and Electric, will continue to operate, managing customer billing and the transmission of electricity. 

The current expansion drive will bring MBCP’s customer total to 465,000, making it the fourth largest CCA program in the state. 

To go along with the growth, the agency is looking to hire seven new people to its staff, which is currently 25 full-time and 3 part-time employees. 

There is growing pressure from state government to shift California to clean sources of energy. MBCP gets most of its power through deals with hydroelectric dams, which are not classified as renewable. One option for the future will be to buy power from a floating wind farm that is being proposed for the deep waters off the coast of Morro Bay. 

On Aug. 14, MBCP signed a memorandum of understanding Castle Wind, one of several companies competing for offshore leases to building such a wind farm. The two sides agreed to enter negotiations for the output from the proposed facility should Castle Wind’s plans get the green light. 

Asaf Shalev is a staff writer at the Monterey County Weekly. He covers higher education, the military, the environment, public lands and the geographic areas of Seaside, Monterey, Sand City, Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

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