California politician David Chiu (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill, AB 525, that would set a new state goal of 10 GW of offshore wind by 2040
The bill from assembly member Chiu would also direct state agencies to begin planning for and addressing barriers to the development of a large-scale offshore wind industry in California.
The bill, co-sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Environment California, also sets an interim offshore wind target of 3 GW by 2030.
After California’s landmark climate legislation, SB 100 (2018), set a state goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy by 2045, a joint energy agency study concluded that the state needs at least 140 GW of renewable energy and storage to meet that target. AB 525 lays out a roadmap for cost-effectively producing a significant percentage of the clean energy California needs.
Assembly member Chiu’s bill is supported by a coalition of clean energy advocates, environmental groups, and labour unions. Its goal setting and planning process is modelled on past efforts in California to create new markets for other clean industries, including the state’s Million Solar Roofs Initiative established in 2006 and energy storage programme initiated in 2010.
To accomplish AB 525’s goals, the bill requires state agencies to develop an implementation plan for offshore wind that will identify sufficient wind areas to meet a 10 GW target, establish a co-ordinated state-federal permitting process, plan for port improvements and transmission system upgrades, and support the development of the skilled and trained workforce needed to build these new facilities.
The bill also requires the state to plan for and address offshore wind’s potential environmental impacts in accordance with the state’s long-term renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.
“California has set ambitious goals for a cleaner, greener economy and we will need an equally clean, green electric grid to provide power,” said assembly member Chiu.
“Offshore wind is a tested, proven technology that can provide huge amounts of renewable energy, with minimal environmental impacts, complementing California’s solar fleet by providing power in the evening hours and through the night. There is work to be done to get these resources online, and this bill gives the state achievable energy production targets that will allow us to start the planning, permitting, and workforce preparation we need to meet them.”
Assembly member Chiu and his backers said offshore wind offers an opportunity to create significant numbers of jobs as California recovers from the effects of Covid-19. During the construction phase, they said, 10 GW of offshore wind would create up to 14,000 annual jobs, along with another 3,000 operations and maintenance jobs. AB 525 also includes strong labour provisions that will lead to the development of a skilled and trained workforce for offshore wind in California, and provide other sustained, equitable wage and economic development benefits.
The 10 GW goal in AB 525 reflects the findings of last year’s SB 100 Joint Agency Report, produced by the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and California Air Resources Board, which concluded that at least 10 GW of offshore wind is needed to cost-effectively achieve the state goal of producing 140 GW of renewable energy and storage by 2045.