Offshore wind project could be up and running by 2017

Offshore wind project could be up and running by 2017 »Play Video

COOS BAY, Ore. -- The State of Oregon is one of only three states across the country selected to pioneer off-shore wind energy projects.

One of those projects could be located right here on the South Coast.

The wind can be powerful around here, and officials say that makes Coos Bay the ideal spot for developing wind energy farms off the coast.

State representative Caddy McKeown of Coos Bay says the project would be an economic boost for Coos County. "This is a tremendous opportunity, not only for our community, but for the state and for the nation," she said.

It would be the first of it's kind on the west coast, a demonstration project to include five direct wind turbines, floating in water of more than 1,000 feet deep.

Officials say it's a technology so innovative, the Department of Energy announced that it will match up to $47 million over the next four years to speed up the process. "We're excited about it, we think that over time, this could be an important part of the economic base for Coos Bay, but it's going to take time," said Kevin Banister, the vice president of business development for Principle Power. "You know, we're hopeful that this project is the first step to getting us on that path."

It's estimated the west coast has the capability to generate more than 75% of the nation's entire power generation capacity.

This project would be about 18 miles off the North Spit.

While you wouldn't be able to see them from land, they have the potential to generate a lot more than energy. "I'm just tickled that we might create some jobs, not just in our area but it our state, it puts us in the position to be a leader," McKeown said.

This project still has a lot of hurdles left to jump before getting that final approval, but officials say they hope to be producing energy by 2017.