Oil companies, some politicians and commuters paying $4 for a gallon of gas might look at California’s coast and think of crude oil pooled below the seafloor.

The state’s North Coast, however, holds promise of another energy bounty.

In less time than it would take to fire up new offshore oil drills, waters off our coast could host floating wind turbines and undulating buoys driven by waves, producing abundant electricity for a power-thirsty state.

The Electric Power Research Institute estimates enough wave power can be extracted from coastal waters to account for about 15 percent of California’s electricity production. Wind could provide up to 110 percent, according to a Stanford University study published last year.

Wind power off California’s coast is now just a thought among power developers, and there are no concrete plans to erect turbines at sea. But optimism is fueled by NASA and university studies indicating wind over waters off picturesque Cape Mendocino is strong and consistent enough to become one of the nation’s best sources of electricity.

Offshore wind and wave technologies are promising, but they’re untried. They also raise concerns about potential damage to the coast’s prized vistas and fish industry.

One proposal to draw electricity from waves off the Mendocino coast already has generated problems for developers, government agencies and coastal residents.

Moreover, the potential for wind and waves depends on someone building transmission lines to connect offshore power to the state’s grid.

Northern California’s biggest utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., may be that someone.

Full Story: http://www.sacbee.com/378/story/1146712.html