New Offshore Wind Bill Passes California State Legislature, Next Stop Governor’s Desk

The California State Legislature has passed a new bill which aims at setting offshore wind capacity targets and advancing the development of offshore wind in this US state.

The Assembly Bill 525 (AB 525) passed the Senate and Assembly on 9 September, with overwhelming votes in favour of the bill on both floors, and now needs to be approved and signed by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom.

Authored by Assemblymember David Chiu and introduced in February, the bill 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.

If the bill is enacted into law, it would require the California Energy Commission to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind on or before 1 June 2022 and to establish offshore wind planning goals for 2030 and 2045.

More specifically, the Energy Commission would be directed to create a strategic plan to develop wind projects off the state’s coast and 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, according to a press release from Assemblymember David Chiu published this April.

The bill states that the 2021 SB 100 Joint Agency Report issued earlier this year had conducted portfolio modeling that selected at least 10 GW of offshore wind energy developments to achieve California’s climate goals, finding a total reduction in total resource costs by an estimated USD 1 billion.

“California may need to build at least 48 gigawatts of new renewable energy and energy storage developments by 2030 and at least 145 gigawatts of new renewable energy and energy storage developments by 2045 to achieve the goals established in SB 100”, the AB 525 bill states.

On the federal level, the US government got things moving in May, when it announced it was advancing areas northwest of Morro Bay and off Humboldt County, which could accommodate up to 4.6 GW of installed offshore wind capacity, for development.

Earlier that same month, the state’s Governor Gavin Newsom presented a revised 2021-2022 budget, which included USD 912 million to accelerate California’s progress on meeting its clean energy goals, of which USD 20 million were earmarked “to spur environmentally responsible development of offshore wind energy”.