A multinational group of 14 companies including eight European and two Canadian have expressed commercial wind energy development interest in three proposed lease areas off the coast of California, setting the stage for what could be record bids in future auctions.

Winners in last December's auction for three lease areas offshore Massachusetts paid $405m, in what turned into a bidding war. The electric power market in California, the world's fifth largest economy, dwarfs that of New England.

The California areas, all in deeper Pacific Ocean federal waters, are Diablo Canyon and Morrow Bay roughly 200-235 miles (322-378km) northwest of Los Angeles and Humbolt, about 270 miles north of San Francisco.