By Ramona du Houx

July 12, 2023

With inland areas of southern California predicted to see conditions peak between 100F and 113F from Friday through Sunday. Californians are all too aware that the climate crisis is real and that action must be taken. The climate crisis is a major reason why, with the leadership of Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmakers, California has committed to make floating offshore wind a vital part of its diverse clean-energy future.

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% renewable energy.  

With the Inflation Reduction Act’s tax incentives for electric vehicles, up to $7,500, and Gov. 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. 

A recent poll says the vast majority of adult Californians, 83 percent, are in favor of offshore wind.

The state still needs to move with speed and scale on key 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, to reach the state’s goals. As the state sets a course 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 there are key pieces of legislation that are imperative to pass. 

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. 

“Offshore wind energy plays a crucial role in meeting California’s goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 and has the potential to create high-paying jobs in the state, which will add to local economies as supply chains build out. AB 3 and AB 80 will help reduce our reliance on dirty fossil fuels while positioning California as a national leader in clean energy innovation and job creation that ensures environmental justice communities are included in the opportunities,” said Meghan Sahli-Wells, Former Culver City Mayor, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) California Director. “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.” 

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. 

“The development, construction, operation, and maintenance of offshore wind projects will require a skilled workforce, offering high-quality jobs with competitive wages and benefits as well as protection for the environment. Tribal members look forward to the projected training and jobs for our community AB 3 ensures will happen,” said Phillip Williams, Councilmember, Yurok Tribe, veteran, Elected Officials to Protect America (EOPA) CA Leadership Council member. “Requiring California to build a strong science-based monitoring program to better understand the impact of offshore wind energy development on ocean life and habitat has been a major concern. The establishment of AB 80’s West Coast Offshore Wind Science Entity will be a milestone.”

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.” 

In 2022, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1020, which puts the state on the path of achieving 90 percent renewable energy and zero-carbon electricity by the end of 2035 and 95 percent by the end of 2040, with the ultimate goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The California Offshore Wind & Jobs Act is crucial in helping the state meet these goals.