Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Palmetto Wind Meteorological Station Moves Forward

Earlier this year, OCC assisted Santee Cooper, South Carolina's state-owned utility, with completion of Phase I of their Meteorological (met) Station Implementation Plan for the Palmetto Wind project.  By 2020, Santee Cooper's goal is to generate 40% of their energy from non-greenhouse gas-emitting resources, biomass fuels, conservation and energy efficiency.  As part of this effort, they are studying the viability of offshore wind energy to determine what kind of role it could play.  Phase I of the project included an alternatives analysis and conceptual design for an offshore met station and a highly reliable monitoring program intended to document the offshore wind resource for wind energy development.

OCC has been contracted to proceed with Phase II of the project.  Phase II includes site investigations and engineering of the met station and monitoring program through the preliminary design level as well as preparation of a draft permit application to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and South Carolina's Office of Coastal Resource Management.

Jack-up barge ready for geotechnical exploration
OCC, along with subconsultants AWS Truepower (AWST) and Newkirk Environmental, have identified a candidate site for the met station.  AWST provided input on the location of the proposed met station with regard to its ability to represent future wind development, while Newkirk led the effort to notify regulatory agencies and to secure a permit for geotechnical borings.  In addition to USACE and the state, OCC and Newkirk contacted other stakeholders such as the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, FAA and a number of local environmental organizations in order to inform them about the intents and goals of the met station, to determine any site specific concerns and to address any comments.

In August 2010, OCC arranged to perform an offshore geotechnical investigation through a local South Carolina subcontractor, AE Drilling, LLC.  Prior to this investigation, OCC contracted with Alpine Oceanic Seismic Survey, Inc. to precisely map the sea floor and to determine if there were any obstructions such as coral reefs or shipwrecks which would indicate that the project site would be unsuitable for the met station installation.

The geotechnical investigation included soil sampling and laboratory analysis to determine the soil and rock strength parameters necessary to design a safe and efficient foundation for the met station.  Using the results of the geotechnical investigation as well as other available environmental data, OCC is working with COWI A/S and Ben C. Gerwick to create a design protocol that will summarize the usage criteria and design parameters for the preliminary design of the met station. 

For more information, contact Brent Cooper at