California Governor Gavin Newsom today joined Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl to announce an agreement that opens the West Coast for offshore wind development for the first time in history, a promising development that could help achieve the state’s clean energy goals, bolster renewable energy sources and create new jobs and investments in California.
“Developing offshore wind to produce clean, renewable energy could be a game changer to achieving California’s clean energy goals and addressing climate change – all while bolstering the economy and creating new jobs,” said Governor Newsom. “This historic announcement, which could provide clean power for up to 1.6 million homes over the next decade, represents the innovative approach we need for a clean energy economy that protects the coasts, fisheries, marine life and Tribal and cultural resources we value so much as Californians.”
Initial areas identified for offshore wind development could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid over the next decade, enough to power 1.6 million homes.
As part of the agreement, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) plans to offer a lease sale as early as 2022 within a 399-square-mile area of the Central Coast northwest of Morro Bay and a separate area on the North Coast. The areas were identified cooperatively by the Departments of the Interior and Defense and the State of California.
“I believe that a clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States, but it will take all of us and the best-available science to make it happen. Today’s announcement reflects months of active engagement and dedication between partners who are committed to advancing a clean energy future,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation, while combating the negative effects of climate change. Interior is proud to be part of an all-of-government approach toward the Biden-Harris administration’s ambitious renewable energy goals.”
Under the terms of the agreement, efforts will focus on the use of floating offshore wind platforms with over 95% of the proposed lease sale area located 20 to 30 miles off the California Coast. In addition, California is committed to moving forward with offshore wind development in a manner that protects fisheries resources, marine life and tribal and cultural resources, while providing significant regional and statewide economic benefits.
As part of the California Comeback Plan, Governor Newsom has proposed $20 million in funding to support California’s offshore wind capacity, including:
- $11 million to support the Port of Humboldt to apply for federal funding for upgrades that will enable it to support offshore wind deployment.
- $6.5 million supporting staff at the California Coastal Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife for accelerated environmental review and front-loaded environmental analysis where feasible. $2.1 million for environmental studies on offshore wind impacts.
- $1.5 million for an engineering and design-build study for a North Coast offshore wind project, to maximize its value in providing regional decarbonization and resilience.
- $700,000 for outreach to ports, Tribes, labor, coastal communities and more.
BOEM, in partnership with California, will hold an Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on June 24 to discuss the identified areas off the north and central coasts as potential wind energy areas. Following the task force meeting, the areas can be finalized and undergo environmental analysis.
Defenders of Wildlife released a statement soon after the announcement:
“With the increase in offshore wind development along our nation’s coasts, this is a truly pivotal opportunity for California to meet clean energy goals while demonstrating responsible offshore wind development strategies that protect our environment. While these initial areas identified for offshore wind development will provide significant energy, climate and economic benefits to local communities, the state and the western grid, it is critically important that California undertake comprehensive ‘Smart from the Start’ planning to avoid important resources and select least-conflict areas for development. Defenders supports responsibly sited, developed and operated offshore wind and we look forward to working with the state to ensure that renewable energy development is informed by science-based conservation measures that consider imperiled wildlife, such as the humpback whales that seasonally migrate along our iconic coastline,” said Pam Flick, California program director for Defenders of Wildlife.
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