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Lease terms for California offshore wind projects published

SACRAMENTO, California. – The Biden administration has released lease terms for offshore wind projects that would place hundreds of turbines in California’s coastal waters — the first such project off the country’s Pacific coast.

That two projects along the north and central coasts of the state are to generate up to 4.5 gigawatts of wind energy. That’s enough to power about 1.5 million homes, the US Department of the Interior announced on Thursday. Wind turbines could eventually cover up to 583 square miles (1,150 square kilometers) of offshore land.

The federal government will solicit public comment for 60 days beginning Tuesday on the terms of the leases, which include requirements for working with tribes, fisheries and other marine users and negotiating labor contracts for construction. Bidders could receive additional recognition if they agreed to invest in workforce training or offshore wind supply chain development.

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Changes could be made before the rental sale officially opens. Even after leases are awarded, projects must pass environmental and other assessments, and it will likely take years for turbines to become operational.

President Joe Biden’s goal is to generate 30 gigawatts of power of offshore wind by 2030 to help the nation reduce its dependency on fossil fuels and meet climate change goals. Today, the country produces about 118 gigawatts of wind power annually, but most of it comes from turbines in the center of the country, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Offshore wind projects currently exist off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia.

“Today we are taking another step to unlock the immense potential of offshore wind energy (off) our nation’s west coast to combat the effects of climate change while creating high-paying jobs,” US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement press release .

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In California, three leases have been proposed near Morro Bay on California’s central coast, a small town fueled by tourism and the fishing industry that catches tuna and swordfish in the area. Some fishermen are concerned that the projects could negatively impact coastal ecosystems. The other two leases are located offshore along Humboldt Bay in Northern California.

The fishing industry has not been given an opportunity to comment on where wind turbines can be placed to minimize damage to the fishing industry, said Mike Conroy, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

“The fishing industry is not against offshore wind projects. What we oppose is a process that tells us where those turbines will go,” he said in an emailed statement.

California has set a goal of generating 100% of its electricity from sources that emit no greenhouse gases by 2045. The state got about 11% of its electricity from wind power in 2020, through a mix of domestic generation and imports from other states, according to the California Energy Commission.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom supports the plan for offshore development in the state’s coastal waters. He has budgeted $20 million in last year’s state budget to support such projects.

David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, said the state looks forward to working with tribal governments and other concerned groups “to ensure the responsible development of this important clean energy resource.”

Other proposed offshore wind projects would shape the coasts off Maine, New York, the Carolinas, Oregon, the Gulf of Mexico and the mid-Atlantic.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/26/lease-terms-for-california-offshore-wind-projects-released/ Lease terms for California offshore wind projects published

Sarah Y. Kim

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