First Wind Project on California’s Coast
The Strauss Wind Energy Project is located in Santa Barbara County approximately 3.5 miles southwest of the City of Lompoc, with Vandenberg Space Force Base to the S, W, and NW. Truly r.e.thinking energy, we are building the first wind project on the California coast generating enough clean, renewable energy to power approximately 36,000 homes.
Two Decades in the Making
Formerly known as the Lompoc Wind Project, the development of this project began in 2001 in Santa Barbara County. Owned over the years by renowned developers, BayWa r.e. Wind, LLC acquired the rights to this project in September 2016 and took a completely new approach. Renaming the project to Strauss Wind and successfully executing on its strategy, construction of the Strauss Wind project is underway.
With a total capacity of up to 95.25 MW, Strauss Wind Project will deploy state-of-the-art GE technology utilizing the GE 3.8 MW platform.
Due to overwhelming public interest in the first wind project on the coast of California, in Santa Barbara County, this informational page has been created to provide facts and updates. We encourage you to submit any questions you may have to strauss(at)baywa-re.us.
Views from the Strauss Wind site
Planning and approvals
Bringing a Wind Project to life in California requires an extensive and detailed planning and approval process. BayWa r.e. worked diligently with all of the local authorities and went through an extensive review process with all the relevant authorities to gain their expertise and opinions.
These included, amongst others:
- Santa Barbara County
- City of Lompoc
The project received all of its required resource agency approvals, including the conditional use permit from the county that can be read on Santa Barbara County's website. Wind farms are an economic generator, providing tax revenue to local counties, income for farmers and ranchers, and increased economic activity for local restaurants, hotels and other service providers.
We know how important it is to respect the natural environment and be sensitive to wildlife, for every project we undertake. Since acquiring the project in 2016, the Strauss team has made every effort to reduce the environmental impact of the project. The project in its current form is the result of significant efforts to reduce the impacts to the maximum extent possible, and it will be subject to an intensive mitigation and monitoring program that the Strauss team is committed to implementing.
Strauss Wind has significantly improved on the original design of the Lompoc Wind concept. Below is a list of some of the significant improvements made by this project, since 2016:
- Current design includes 27 turbines (a 58 percent reduction from the Lompoc Wind Project), while maintaining similar generating capacity.
- All 27 turbines are located on or adjacent to sites previously approved for Lompoc Wind.
- Siting fewer turbines significantly reduced the number of required access roads and amount of grading compared to Lompoc Wind.
- The substation and the operations and maintenance (O&M) building were relocated to reduce environmental impact, especially to cultural resources.
- Turbine siting considered the full suite of environmental constraints, including biological, avian, cultural resources, waters and wetlands, to reduce impact while meeting the project objectives.
- Strauss Wind used all previous surveys and studies dating back to 2001. It subsequently conducted additional surveys and studies starting in 2016.
- Siting of turbines and project facilities, and all surveys and studies, were conducted in compliance with updated state and federal guidelines and survey protocols.
- Strauss Wind will construct a 115 kV transmission line, which under the proposed Lompoc Wind Project would have been constructed by PG&E. PG&E’s involvement will be limited to the interconnection to the existing system in Lompoc. Construction and operation of the transmission line by Strauss will provide additional operational flexibility and control without reliance on a major utility.
- Through diligent efforts and a commitment to making environmental decisions regarding the project, the Strauss team has reduced the number of oak trees lost by the project by 87 percent.
- A detailed oak tree inventory and impact assessment was completed to support the County’s DSEIR.
- Early iterations of the project’s grading plan estimated the loss of up to 1,749 oak trees.
- The Strauss team fully supports the Modified Project Layout Alternative, which further reduces the impact to only 225 oak trees—an 87 percent total reduction in the impact to oak trees from the project’s initial design.
- The Strauss team also significantly reduced impact to cultural resources, including the Chumash sacred sites located to the west of the project site on VAFB property.
- The approved Lompoc Wind Project included 17 wind turbines and numerous access roads in the northwest portion of the site within one mile, several of which were located less than 600 feet from Swordfish Cave, an important sacred site for the Chumash tribe.
- The Strauss team redesigned the project in this portion of the site, reducing the total number of turbines to 4 - a 76 percent reduction in turbine locations closest to the off-site sacred sites.
- Under the improved Strauss design, the closest turbine or access road is more than 2,000 feet away from either Swordfish or Window Caves sacred sites.
Wind farms are an economic generator, providing tax revenue to local counties, income for farmers and ranchers, and increased economic activity for local restaurants, hotels and other service providers. Additionally, Strauss Wind will help California meet its commitment to diversify its renewable energy generation profile and meet its renewable energy goals. The project also supports Santa Barbara County’s clean energy goals laid out in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, which encourages the use of alternative energy for environmental and economic benefits.
Approval of utility-scale renewable energy projects, such as Strauss Wind, is a specific action recommended in the County’s Energy and Climate Action Plan. Wind energy is a sustainable resource that generates no pollution or hazardous waste. It does not deplete fresh water resources, and it requires no mining, transportation, or refining of a feedstock or fuel. Electricity produced by wind farms displaces electricity from other, less clean, sources.
Strauss Wind will:
- Generate an estimated $40 million in tax revenue during its 30-year lifecycle
- Be among the top ten tax contributors in Santa Barbara County
- Create about 150 well-paying construction jobs during its building phase and a team of 4-6 permanent employees to assist in the maintenance and operation of the facility
- Use locally-sourced concrete and other materials
- Hire experienced and skilled contractors, including those represented by established labor unions
- Provide annual income to ranchers who lease land to the project
- Allow local agricultural operations to continue with minimal impact
System design details
The Strauss Wind Project has been designed with the most efficient and advanced technology available. A few key specifications on the project can be found below:
Wind turbine generators
Total nameplate capacity of 95.25 MW
- 23 x GE 3.8-137 turbines
- 81.5 meter hub height
- 137 meter rotor diameter
- Rotor swept area of 14,741 m2
- Produce a maximum of 3,830 kW
- Three-phase, medium voltage dry resin transformer internally mounted in the base of each turbine
- 4 x GE 1.7-100 turbines
- 80.0 meter hub height
- 100 meter rotor diameter
- Rotor swept area of 7,854 m2
- Produce a maximum of 1,790 kW
- Three-phase, medium voltage pad mount transformers adjacent to each turbine
Wind and energy production
- Annual average hub height wind speed of 6.8 m/s
- Annual average energy production of 258.6 GWh
- Net capacity factor of 32.8%
Balance of plant
- 34.5kV – 115kV Collection Substation
- 115kV Switch Yard at the Point of Interconnect
- 7.3 mile, 115kV, Single Circuit Transmission Line
- 6.25 miles of Access Road
- 10 miles of 34.5kV Underground Collection Line
- Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) implemented via fiber optic network
- Provides turbine and substation data to local Operations and Maintenance facility in Lompoc and BayWa’s remote operations center in Carlsbad, CA
- Enables turbine fault monitoring and remote operation including shutdown/startup
- IdentiFlight® avian monitoring system with three monitoring towers
- Uses artificial intelligence to distinguish between bird species and curtail wind farm activities when necessary
- 23 x GE 3.8-137 turbines
- March 2001: First meteorological tower installed
- September 2002: Environmental and technical studies were initiated.
- February 2006: Acciona acquired Lompoc Wind Energy Project and filed for the first Conditional Use Permit for a 65-turbine project
- September 2008: Final EIR was released and the planning commission approved the Lompoc Wind Energy Project
- February 2009: Santa Barbara Board of Supervisor denied appeals and unanimously approved the project. This was also later upheld by both the District Court and Court of Appeals.
- March 2009-July 2015: Lompoc Wind Energy Project received various additional County approvals and additional technical studies continued.
- September 2016: BayWa r.e. Wind, LLC acquires Lompoc Wind Project, renames it Strauss Wind.
- December 2016: Strauss Wind updates Conditional Use Permit application and continues all technical studies for the Strauss Wind Energy Project.
- February 2020: Strauss Wind received CUP Approval from the Board of Supervisor.
- April 2020: County of Santa Barbara P&D issued Strauss Wind Zoning Permit.
Update #1: Road and grading update
Grading on the Project is nearly complete.
Final Grading is being done on the Project roads, String roads providing access to the Wind Turbine locations and Turbine pads.
The Project Sub-Station as well as the Transmission Line from the Switch Yard to the Project Sub-Station are complete.
Update #2: Switchyard construction
With construction in full swing, you may have noticed the switchyard construction visible from HWY 1 about half mile before approaching HWY 246 heading north. The switchyard connects approximately 7 miles of transmission lines delivering clean energy produced by the Strauss Wind project into the local 115kv grid system owned by PG&E. The Strauss Wind Project is helping California to reach its aggressive renewable energy goals.
Update #3: Foundation
All of the Wind Turbine Foundations have been installed. The Patrick and Henderson Tensionless Pier Foundations consist of a large, cast in place Pier Foundation to support the P&H Tower and Wind Turbine. P&H Foundations are the most environmentally green in the industry. The small footprint has far less ground disturbance than a Gravity Spread Foundation. P&H Foundations also use far less concrete and steel than a Gravity Spread Foundation. Concrete for the Foundations are supplied locally in Lompoc, CA.
Update #4: Turbine delivery
Wind Turbine components and other oversized loads will be transported over City Streets by truck. Deliveries are expected to be completed Q1 2023. The larger of the Wind Turbine Components will travel through the City of Lompoc between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Route to be traveled will be the city approved truck route consisting of the following. These roads will be subject to delays.
- Ocean Ave East
- F Street South
- Cypress Ave West
- I Street South
- San Miguelito Road South
Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. Is this the first wind project on the California coast?
- Q. Why did you choose Lompoc for this project?
A. The topography is perpendicular to the predominant wind direction coming off the ocean, which makes for a great location for a wind farm.
- Q. How many blades will be transported?
A. There are a total of 81 blades.
- Q. How many total wind turbines will be constructed?
A. 27 turbines.
- Q. What are they made of?
A. Blades consist of fiberglass layers, wood construction, and metal supports for connection to the hub. Nacelles are enclosed in fiberglass and have steel structural internal components. Tower sections consist of solid steel construction.
- Q. How big are the blades? How many feet?
A. The blades are 220 ft long.
- Q. How big are the nacelles and tower parts?
A. Nacelle: 32’ x 13‘ x 12’ Tower sections: Top: 102’ x 11’, Mid: 84’ x 14’, Bottom: 73’ x 15’.
- Q. Are they as big and oversized/complicated as the wind turbine blades?
A. The nacelle and tower sections are smaller, but much heavier.
- Q. How big are the actual turbines?
A. We are using both GE 3.8 and GE 1.79 models in the Strauss Project. When fully constructed the GE 3.8 models will be 492 ft tall (150m) and the GE 1.79 models will be 427 ft tall (130m) from foundation to blade tip.
- Q. How long will construction last for?
A. Construction will continue through Q4 2023.
- Q. What can people expect during construction and once the site is up and running?
A. There will be some traffic interruption during construction. Once the project is up and running things will be back to normal.
- Q. How did you figure out how to get the huge parts through city street?
A. Our wind turbine components are brought in by special transport vehicle. We use trucks with a trailer that have a steerable rear axle.
- Q. How much power can Strauss deliver per year?
A. The project will deliver up to 259 GWh of wind energy per year.
- Q. Where are the turbines being moved from?
A. The turbine components are coming to Lompoc from the Port of Stockton.
- Q. When will the project be up and running?
A. The project should be complete by Q4 2023.