Legislation will help California meet clean energy goals while creating thousands of new jobs
Sacramento, CA—Legislation authored by Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) to jumpstart the offshore wind industry in California passed the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee today. Assembly Bill 525 would direct state agencies to set statewide goals for offshore wind production and develop a strategic plan for California to achieve large-scale renewable wind energy by 2045.
“The signs of the climate crisis are all around us,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “With offshore wind, we have an opportunity to counter the threat of climate change, meet our clean energy goals, and create thousands of new good-paying jobs in the process.”
The devastating impacts of climate change are increasingly apparent in places like California. From deadly forest fires to drought to power outages, Californians are acutely aware of the devastation that lies ahead if climate change continues unchecked.
To combat this existential threat, California has set ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals. Senate Bill 100, passed and signed into law in 2018, requires the state to achieve a carbon-free electric system by 2045, which will necessitate an estimated 140 GW of new clean energy production. The state will not meet this goal without a diverse portfolio of clean energy sources, including new clean energy sources.
Offshore wind has enormous potential to help California meet clean energy mandates and help stabilize the state’s energy grid. If the total technical potential for offshore wind capacity along the California coast were built out, the state could see approximately 112 GW of new clean energy. Additionally, offshore wind is the perfect compliment to California’s existing solar capacity. When the sun sets and solar stops producing, wind picks up allowing offshore wind turbines to produce energy throughout the night and late afternoon during peak usage hours.
AB 525 would direct the California Energy Commission (CEC) to create a strategic plan to put offshore wind in place along the California coast. The bill would require the CEC to set gigawatt targets for offshore wind production for years 2030 and 2045. The strategic plan would map out near term infrastructure improvements needed to accommodate offshore wind facilities.
To harness the greatest wind capacity, offshore wind turbines along the California coast would need to be placed 20-30 miles offshore in federal waters. The turbines would not be visible from the coast. Due to the deep waters on the West Coast, turbines would need to be floating structures, which has the added benefit of being far less disruptive to the sea floor. Recent amendments to AB 525 protect natural habitats and marine life in the offshore wind planning and construction processes.
As the pandemic has ravaged California’s economy and many are unemployed, it is crucial to look towards industries like offshore wind that can provide new employment opportunities. Offshore wind construction has the capacity to create 14,000 good-paying jobs for California workers. Additionally, offshore wind has the potential to save ratepayers $1 billion between now and 2040.
While AB 525 would make way for the first offshore wind turbines on the West Coast, six East Coast states have implemented similar planning processes and are currently in the construction phase. President Joe Biden recently set a goal of producing 30 GW of energy from offshore wind by 2030.
Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), Senator John Laird (D-Santa Cruz), Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Assemblymember Steve Bennett (D-Santa Barabara), Assemblymember Lisa Calderon (D-Whittier), Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park), Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R-Brea), Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) are coauthors of AB 525. The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Environment California are cosponsoring AB 525.
“The Building Trades in California have built the vast majority of the utility scale solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and pumped storage making California a global leader in renewable energy,” said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, representing nearly half a million hardworking construction workers statewide. “Offshore wind is the next frontier and our highly skilled workforce is positioned to bring a new, limitless and reliable green energy source onto California’s grid. If you will, it’s a wind-win.”
“Offshore wind could supply more clean energy than the entire state’s current electricity needs." said Laura Deehan, State Director of Environment California. “The last year showed us what climate change is doing to our state—and how severely it will test our electric grid. Here in California, we must do everything we can to fight back—and serve as a model for the rest of the world—that means tapping all of the resources at our disposal. Offshore wind will be a key piece of the solution, and this bill will ensure the state makes it a reality.”
“Offshore wind will be an essential part of California’s transition to a clean electric grid. Renewable energy companies are prepared to invest billions of dollars to make the state a global leader in offshore wind technology, while providing clean, reliable, affordable energy,” said Danielle Osborn Mills, Director of American Clean Power-California. “We’ve seen in other states that offshore wind requires unique planning, permitting, and development considerations; none of this will happen on its own. California is falling behind on its climate goals at a time when the rest of the country is doubling down on clean energy. California needs to recommit to the infrastructure, jobs, and greenhouse gas reductions that offshore wind and other clean energy technologies can bring. This bill will ensure the state gets back on track—adding an innovative new resource to the diverse renewable portfolio we need to meet our energy goals.”
AB 525 will now move on for a hearing in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee.