A new bill to drastically increase offshore wind power production, including a final goal of 10 Gigawatts (GW) of electricity by 2040, was introduced in the Assembly this week.
Assembly Bill 525, authored by Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), would target the growth of offshore wind farms to help meet the goals of SB 100, also known as the 100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018, to have renewable and zero-carbon energy sources supplying 100% of retail sales of electricity to California end-use customers and 100% of electricity procured to serve all state agencies by 2045. AB 525 would specifically set goals of offshore wind production at 3 GW of electricity by 2030 and 10 GW by 2040. Should the bill be passed, a strategic plan for the offshore wind farms would be due by June 2022.
In addition, consultation would be required with the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to see what would be needed to support the offshore wind farms, including finding suitable areas for turbines to be built and training suitable workers for the farms.
Assemblyman Chiu wrote the bill not only to help meet the goals of SB 100, but to also help spur more wind power development in California.
“California has set ambitious goals for building a cleaner, greener economy, and we will need an equally clean, green electric grid to provide power to every community 24 hours a day – all year long,” Chiu said in a statement Thursday. “Offshore wind is a tested, proven technology that can provide huge amounts of renewable energy, with minimal environmental impacts, complementing California’s enormous 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.”
The bill quickly gained support in the form of co-authors on Thursday, as well as getting co-sponsorship from the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and Environment California.
“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,” noted State Building and Construction Trades Council of California president Robbie Hunter of AB 525. “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.”
Opponents question AB 525
Opponents of the bill noted that while the wind farms would bring in construction, maintenance, and operation jobs to many coastal areas, the state can’t rely on wind power projects at a time when power plants across the state are closing down.
“Wind is fine for many places, but in denser parts of California you can’t rely on it,” Dr. Zachary Lang, an energy expert in Washington, D.C, explained to the Globe. “California will be losing many plants of the coal/oil/gas variety in the coming years due to environmental regulations. Even their lone nuclear plant. Dams are unpopular, so hydro won’t be growing, so the burden is being placed on solar and wind.”
“And, to their credit, California has done an incredible job of creating renewable energy plants. In ten years, in-state generated electricity has shot up from about 15% renewable in 2009 to 33% in 2018. Even natural gas has gone down percentage-wise, and not many states can claim that.”
“But, as we saw in the California energy crisis at the turn of the millennium and through all the grid closings and brownouts due to forest fires in recent years, the state needs to make sure that renewable energy can stand on its own. Little by little, you add some renewable energy, take off some non-renewable and see if it strains. And you build it up little by little. Many Europeans countries do this in anticipation of coal and gas plant closures, and California needs to slowly bring it in too.”
“Remember, you need a lot of wind plants for decent power. The bills goal is 3 GW by 2030. Ok, but remember a gigawatt only covers about 700,000-750,000 homes; 10GW covers a decent amount, but in terms of covering California, you need more than that. Plus you need to make sure that the wind power holds up for providing electricity before more non-renewable plants are shut down.”
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