It had been seven years since I first presented to then Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and the California State Lands Commission about the potential for offshore wind and the sustainable blue economy in California, so when I was invited to speak at the annual 2023 Pacific Offshore Wind Summit in Sacramento last month, I was intrigued to learn how far the industry had come and excited to share my perspectives.
Organized by the non-profit Offshore Wind California, the Summit attracted 750 attendees to Sacramento for two days of substantive dialogue and was bookended by a public symposium organized by the California Energy Commission, and an informational agenda item on offshore wind energy (item Th4) by the California Coastal Commission.
On Day Two of the Summit, I joined fellow industry leaders in a panel presentation about how to enhance opportunities for offshore wind in the Pacific region. Our panel included moderator Jason Busch, Executive Director of the Pacific Ocean Energy Trust, Port of Seattle Commissioner Ryan Calkins, and Molly Croll, Pacific Offshore Wind Director for American Clean Power. We had a lot to say, and for the purposes of this blog, I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Here are five key takeaways for offshore wind industry leaders to keep in mind while planning to engage with California State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission.
5 Key Takeaways:
- Proactive Coordination: Industry leaders, community members, government agencies, tribal representatives, and stakeholders are proactively engaged with significant coordination towards achieving California’s target of 100% clean energy by 2045.
Hats-off to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Governor Newsom, his Department of Natural Resources, and the too-many-to-name contributors who have progressed the fledgling industry to this point.
- Innovative Leasing and Industry Growth: The Biden-Harris Administration’s December 2022 announcement of the auction of five wind energy areas in federal waters off the coast of California to five companies valued at $757 million continues to carry momentum and will catapult the clean, reliable energy industry.
As a result, offshore wind as an industry in California has the potential to deliver up to 5GW of clean energy (plus more development opportunities in the pipeline, so to speak) by 2030, assuming the government approach continues over the next several years.
- Procurement: Last week, Governor Newsome announced plans for the State of California to buy energy from new renewable energy sources, including offshore wind. Details are lacking, but this is a positive sign that builds confidence.
- Ports: We also heard that the Ports are regularly communicating through the California Association of Port Authorities on how to prepare for and expand port facilities to support offshore wind industry. Both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Humboldt Bay have announced aggressive plans to expand facilities, and there is talk of a climate bond in 2024 that may provide public funding to support related infrastructure.
- Permitting: Permitting remains the biggest unknown and is needed not only for Port expansion projects, but also for offshore wind developers who are eyeing over 80 permits in order to install the floating wind farms in federal waters. BOEM is the lead agency on federal permits, but we do not yet have a clear path on permitting from the State of California. We are waiting for the Energy Commission to publish its strategic plan for offshore wind energy by the end of June, which will include an update to its State permitting roadmap.
Offshore wind developers would be well-advised to boost their advocacy teams now and plan to coordinate with the California State Lands Commission, and the California Coastal Commission early and often.
That’s where we come in. At Intesa Communications Group, we partner with developers and provide advocacy support services with the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission to build mutual confidence in the permitting process.
For more information, and to schedule an introduction, zap me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.