California lawmakers warm up to offshore wind – Courthouse News Service
A proposal to boost the creation of floating offshore wind farms passes the California legislature’s first test. Supporters see it as a boon to the environment and the economy.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Sensing a change of direction from the White House, California is preparing to make offshore wind the next big thing in its quest for clean energy.
Still reeling from a summer of power outages in the state’s largest cities, lawmakers on Wednesday brought forward legislation requiring regulators to pave the way for a rush of floating wind farms over the next two decades. .
The author of the bill presented offshore wind to the Assembly’s Utilities and Energy Committee as a double: a way to fight global warming and create well-paying green jobs.
“As we reflect on how to tackle this climate crisis and get people back to work, there is a unique opportunity to do both just 20 to 30 miles off our coast,” the assembled said. David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco. “California has access to one of the world’s largest untapped renewable energy resources; offshore wind. “
If enacted, Assembly Bill 525 would require regulators to develop a roadmap by 2023 detailing ways the state can support new offshore wind projects in the Pacific Ocean. To put the plan into action, AB 525 is also ordering state agencies to begin securing necessary federal permits and planning for upgrades to the port.
In addition, the bill directs the California Energy Commission to coordinate with the energy industry and task forces on infrastructure projects and examine the potential impact of the projects on coastal ecosystems and sailors.
The bipartisan proposal passed its first legislative hurdle on Wednesday, clearing the committee unanimously. The proposal still has to pass the natural resources and appropriations committees of the Assembly before a potential floor vote, and then repeat the process in the Senate.
Assembly co-author Jordan Cunningham said offshore wind will play a crucial role in diversifying the state’s energy portfolio as it continues to turn to renewables. As the 2025 shutdown date for the state’s last nuclear power plant approached, he argued that the state should follow the UK’s lead and quickly embrace offshore wind technology.
“As a direct result of their investment in offshore wind, they have seen these climate reductions, their energy has become cheaper and all of society has benefited,” said Cunningham, a Republican from San Luis Obispo. “California is the perfect place to develop this new market and this exciting technology.”
For decades California has been a key producer of wind power, as in 2019 it generated nearly 6,000 megawatts (MW), the fifth of all states. But unlike some of the other major producers on the East Coast, its wind power transport is entirely onshore.
Although California has over 800 miles of rugged coastline, traditional offshore wind technologies are not feasible due to the immense depths of the Pacific Ocean. The solution, proponents say, is to move away from fixed-bottom turbines in favor of an army of floating turbines.
The floating option would involve wiring or mooring the turbines to an underwater platform hundreds of feet underwater and allow production to occur over submarine basins such as the canyon. of Monterey.
With infrastructure installed near places like Diablo Canyon, Morro Bay, and Mendocino and Humboldt counties, experts say California would be ready to take advantage of an endless source of clean energy.
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently estimated that the state could produce up to 200,000 MW of energy off its coasts. For comparison, the Biden administration recently announced a target of 30,000 MW – enough to power 10 million homes for a year – by 2030.
But before the rush of the wind can really kick in, California will need to figure out how to build land-based infrastructure and remove obstacles caused by other coastal activities like shipping, fishing, marine conservation, and the United States Navy.
The good news at the moment is that the federal government seems poised to partner with states like California on offshore wind. Last month, the Biden administration said it would speed up permits and offer billions in loans for new offshore wind projects.
“President Biden believes we have a huge opportunity ahead of us not only to address the threats of climate change, but also to use it as a chance to create millions of well-paying union jobs that will fuel America’s economic recovery.” , said the White House. said of the plan.
Chiu said lawmakers should take the opportunity to partner with the federal government on offshore wind, noting that it could create thousands of new jobs on the California coast and clean energy for the rest of. the state.
“We are late and we have to take the opportunity to engage and make sure that we are part of the national plan,” Chiu said.
According to a recent study by various California regulators, by 2045, the state will need to produce and store at least 140,000 MW of new renewable energy to reach its goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. energy goal in 2018 , arguing that the state must abandon coal for solar and wind power.
The original proposal called for planning targets of at least 3,000 MW by 2030 and 10,000 MW by 2040, but the committee’s analysis called these targets premature. Under the amendments accepted by Chiu, regulators will determine future production targets.
A long list of environmental and labor groups support AB 525 while none testified against the bill in Wednesday’s hearing. However, committee vice chairman Jim Patterson said farm groups and the California Large Energy Consumers Association fear the shift to offshore wind could drive up energy costs in the future.