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Offshore Wind in California Focus of CEC Workshop

By Media Office Staff

Offshore wind power may provide California with a renewable resource that can help it reach its ambitious clean energy goals. That new resource may not only add more renewable energy to the state’s power mix, it has the potential of adding resiliency to the electric grid.

There are many issues yet to be addressed concerning offshore wind in California, with the latest step taking place at a recent California Energy Commission (CEC) workshop on offshore wind that is part of the 2019 Integrated Energy Policy Report.

CEC Chair David Hochschild and Commissioner Karen Douglas hosted the workshop along with Mark Gold, secretary for ocean policy for the California Natural Resources Agency and Suzanne Casazza, legal and policy advisor to California Public Utilities Commissioner (CPUC) Lianne Randolph.

The workshop, which was held Oct. 3 at the CPUC headquarters in San Francisco, included a range of stakeholders from private industry, environmental organizations, and academia. In California, offshore wind has the potential to generate energy in the evening hours when solar power has waned. This makes offshore wind a potential complement to solar and onshore wind power, which typically offers power during the day.

The CEC is a member of the California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force established by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in 2016. The task force is a federal-state effort exploring the potential for wind generating facilities in federal waters off California’s coast. Members of the task force include state, local and federal agencies, and tribal governments.

To date, the task force has held more than 75 meetings with tribes, academics, fishing industry representatives, environmental organizations, offshore wind developers, coastal communities, and officials from state and local governments, as well as the military.

The process resulted in the identification of the first call areas off California’s coast.

Offshore wind in California will require floating wind turbines. Approximately 96 percent of California’s offshore wind resource is located in deep water at depths greater than 60 meters.

Eight states on the East Coast are promoting offshore wind areas and some have written offshore wind targets into legislation.

The first offshore wind project in the United States came online in 2016 as the 30-megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Those wind platforms are mounted to the seabed and are capable of powering 17,000 homes.

The CEC plans to develop a report that captures the state of offshore wind in California based on information discussed at the workshop.

Presentations from the workshop are on the CEC website.

Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

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