August 16, 2023
Offshore wind presents a golden opportunity to fuel California’s clean energy economy, help environmental justice communities, and become energy independent from fossil fuels. The people of California clearly see its potential. A recent poll revealed that the vast majority of adult Californians, 83 percent, are in favor of offshore wind.
Federal, state and local governments are working responsibly to ensure the deployment of floating offshore wind turbine arrays are rapid enough to mitigate the climate crisis and meet the state’s clean energy goals. All this needs to be accomplished while respecting environmental, cultural, economic and community needs.
In early August, Elected Officials to Protect America and the USC Schwarzenegger Institute gathered over 50 key leaders at the Port of Long Beach where they learned about the proposed Pier Wind Project and held a California Offshore Wind roundtable conversation.
During the discussion stakeholders, elected officials, labor and others exchanged perspectives on what is needed for a future with clean offshore wind energy off the coast of California.
“Our state has a critical opportunity to change the energy production paradigm from its current legacy of pollution, exploitation and climate injustice, to co-create an energy sector modeled on sustainability, respect for communities and the natural world, affordability and shared abundance. Achieving this goal requires deep collaboration between diverse stakeholders. Our roundtable was key to that process,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, former Culver City Mayor, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California Director. “We need to harness the maximum potential of offshore wind to hold back the devastating effects of climate change. There is no time to waste with deadly heat waves, fire season worsening, sea levels rising, and severe storms that cause mudslides. We need to protect our people and planet.”
The state needs to move with speed and scale on steps to bring offshore wind online – including transmission and port upgrades, procuring at scale, a permitting roadmap, supply chain logistics, and vital workforce training programs. The roundtable discussion talked about these and other issues knowing the state must plot a course that will take to deploy a nation-leading 25 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2045, create new jobs and meet its climate, clean-energy and grid-reliability goals.
“Offshore wind is an exciting opportunity for California to meet its clean energy goals, clean up our air, and create thousands of jobs. We must continue to work together and build a coalition for the equitable development of offshore wind,” said Fran Pavley, former Senator, Environmental Policy Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) published a study that examines future U.S. offshore wind workforce growth and identifies future workforce development needs. The report estimates that the offshore wind industry will need an average of between 15,000 and 58,000 full-time jobs every year from 2024 to 2030, depending on the amount of American-made content used.
“It is important to bring all the stakeholders to the table so we can move the needle forward towards zero-emissions and clean energy. I was proud to speak to my fellow elected colleagues who met alongside our staff, labor leaders and others to share my enthusiasm about Pier Wind,’’ said Rex Richardson, Mayor Long Beach. “Pier Wind is a golden opportunity to bring new investment into our port complex and create a nationally significant manufacturing center. It will employ thousands while serving as the foundation of the 1,600 deep water offshore wind energy turbines needed to meet our state’s clean energy electrical needs by 2045.”
Ports up and down the coast of California are looking into what role they may be taking. The Port of Humboldt Bay will become California’s first hub to serve offshore wind energy installation, specifically for the area designation off Humboldt’s coast for a floating wind farm. The Port of Long Beach has made comprehensive plans that would service the offshore wind farm off of Morro Bay.
“The Port of Long Beach plans to be a major part of the effort to establish off-shore wind power in California with ‘Pier Wind,’ the nation’s largest seaport-based off-shore wind power staging and integration facility,” said Mario Cordero, Port of Long Beach CEO. “We believe this Port will make a huge difference in the successful development of this key source of renewable energy for our state and beyond.”
With the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax incentives for electric vehicles, up to $7,500, and Governor Newsom’s clean car goals, the demand for more electricity will increase, which can be met with clean offshore shore wind energy, keeping fossil fuels in the ground.
“It is imperative that we harness the maximum potential of offshore wind to hold back the devastating effects of climate change. With California experiencing deadly heat waves, apocalyptic fire seasons, rising sea levels, and severe mudslides, there is no time to waste. This is a national security issue, as the climate crisis is a threat multiplier,” said Alex Cornell du Houx, former Maine State Representative, Marine combat veteran, President of the Elected Officials to Protect America, and Co-Founder. “The great news is that leaders from across the state came together to discuss offshore wind challenges, solutions and its tremendous potential to help mitigate the climate crisis while growing the economy with union jobs, community supply chains and infrastructure. We’re on the verge of transitioning to a clean energy-secure future which will bring environmental justice thanks, in large part, to offshore wind.”
A growing list of over 100 Californian elected officials from across the state have signed an EOPA California offshore wind letter that supports a responsible build out of offshore wind. As the letter states, “Responsible development of California’s offshore wind resources is imperative to reach our statewide goal of 100 percent clean power by 2045, while creating thousands of high-skilled jobs, reducing demand for polluting fossil fuels, and protecting our marine resources and coastal communities.”
Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California looks forward to two bills, in particular, becoming law, AB 3 and AB 80. Both will advance California’s offshore wind goals ensuring the integrity of the natural ocean resource. Both will work with the communities directly impacted by the developments and environmental impacts.
AB 3, the California Offshore Wind Energy and Jobs Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Rick Chavez Zbur of West Hollywood, requires the California Energy Commission (CEC) to study and recommend strategies maximizing job opportunities for the state and creating pathways for developing port infrastructure to achieve our climate change goals through offshore wind energy.
“We need to harness the maximum potential of offshore wind to hold back the devastating effects of climate change. The California Offshore Wind Energy and Jobs Act has committed to ensuring that the majority of offshore wind energy project jobs advance environmental justice. That’s key to our state’s future,” said Alex Walker-Griffin, Mayor of Hercules, service member, EOPA California Co-Chair. “It also ensures protection of cultural resources and the environment. The West Coast Offshore Wind Science Entity, that will be established with AB 80, would make sure the latter happens backed up by scientific evidence. Both bills are essential for our transition to a clean energy economy and national security.”
AB 80, sponsored by Assemblymember Dawn Addis, of Morro Bay. would require the established state Ocean Protection Council to, “upon an appropriation by the Legislature, establish and oversee the establishment of, in coordination with other unspecified state and federal agencies, a nonprofit West Coast Offshore Wind Science Entity for the purpose of ensuring that directing comprehensive baseline and ongoing monitoring of the California current ocean ecosystem as well as targeted research, and oversee that the research is available and used to inform state and federal decisions, as provided,” according to the bill.
Nationwide, offshore wind has the potential to provide more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) of electric energy — two times the present generation of the entire U.S. electric grid, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimate. The sheer size of the resource illustrates the critical contribution that offshore wind can make toward an energy system powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
The Biden Administration has a goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of U.S. offshore wind by 2030 and 15 GW of floating offshore wind by 2035.
Elected Officials to Protect America: EOPA is a non-partisan network of current and former elected officials who care deeply about protecting the planet and people. EOPA is committed to solving the climate crisis, ensuring environmental justice, and protecting our lands and waters. EOPA educates through value-based storytelling, training lawmakers, and connecting elected officials to inspire strong environmental leadership. EOPA California is a statewide chapter of EOPA, a non-partisan network of California elected officials committed to protecting our communities, public health, and climate.
The USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy is committed to advancing post-partisanship, where leaders put people over political parties and work together to find the best ideas and solutions to benefit the people they serve. The Institute seeks to influence public policy and public debate in finding solutions to the serious challenges we face.