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Assembly Bill 525 Offshore Wind Strategic Plan - Volume II: Main Report

By Melissa Jones, Jim Bartridge, and Lorelei Walker - California Energy Commission, January 2024

Assembly Bill 525 (AB 525, Chiu, Chapter 231, Statutes of 2021) directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to complete and submit a strategic plan for offshore wind development in federal waters off the California coast to the Natural Resources Agency and the relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature.

This strategic plan is the last of four work products the CEC is directed to prepare by AB 525. The strategic plan consists of three volumes: Volume I is an overview report, Volume II is the main report, and Volume III contains the technical appendices.

In preparing the strategic plan, the CEC coordinated with federal, state, and local agencies and a wide variety of stakeholders. As required by AB 525, this strategic plan identifies suitable sea space to accommodate the offshore wind planning goals, includes a discussion of economic and workforce development and port space and infrastructure, and assesses transmission investments, upgrades, and associated costs. In addition, this strategic plan discusses the permitting processes for offshore wind facilities and identifies potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, Native American and Indigenous peoples, national defense, and underserved communities. The plan also includes a discussion of strategies that could address those potential impacts such as avoidance, minimization, monitoring, mitigation, and adaptive management.

For more details, see: AB 525 Reports: Offshore Renewable Energy

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Assembly Bill 525 Offshore Wind Strategic Plan - Volume I: Overview Report

By Melissa Jones, Jim Bartridge, and Lorelei Walker - California Energy Commission, January 2024

Assembly Bill 525 (AB 525, Chiu, Chapter 231, Statutes of 2021) directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to complete and submit a strategic plan for offshore wind development in federal waters off the California coast to the Natural Resources Agency and the relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature.

This strategic plan is the last of four work products the CEC is directed to prepare by AB 525. The strategic plan consists of three volumes: Volume I is an overview report, Volume II is the main report, and Volume III contains the technical appendices.

In preparing the strategic plan, the CEC coordinated with federal, state, and local agencies and a wide variety of stakeholders. As required by AB 525, this strategic plan identifies suitable sea space to accommodate the offshore wind planning goals, includes a discussion of economic and workforce development and port space and infrastructure, and assesses transmission investments, upgrades, and associated costs. In addition, this strategic plan discusses the permitting processes for offshore wind facilities and identifies potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, Native American and Indigenous peoples, national defense, and underserved communities. The plan also includes a discussion of strategies that could address those potential impacts such as avoidance, minimization, monitoring, mitigation, and adaptive management.

For more details, see: AB 525 Reports: Offshore Renewable Energy

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Assembly Bill 525 Offshore Wind Strategic Plan - Volume III: Appendices

By Melissa Jones, Jim Bartridge, and Lorelei Walker - California Energy Commission, January 2024

Assembly Bill 525 (AB 525, Chiu, Chapter 231, Statutes of 2021) directs the California Energy Commission (CEC) to complete and submit a strategic plan for offshore wind development in federal waters off the California coast to the Natural Resources Agency and the relevant fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature.

This strategic plan is the last of four work products the CEC is directed to prepare by AB 525. The strategic plan consists of three volumes: Volume I is an overview report, Volume II is the main report, and Volume III contains the technical appendices.

In preparing the strategic plan, the CEC coordinated with federal, state, and local agencies and a wide variety of stakeholders. As required by AB 525, this strategic plan identifies suitable sea space to accommodate the offshore wind planning goals, includes a discussion of economic and workforce development and port space and infrastructure, and assesses transmission investments, upgrades, and associated costs. In addition, this strategic plan discusses the permitting processes for offshore wind facilities and identifies potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, Native American and Indigenous peoples, national defense, and underserved communities. The plan also includes a discussion of strategies that could address those potential impacts such as avoidance, minimization, monitoring, mitigation, and adaptive management.

For more details, see: AB 525 Reports: Offshore Renewable Energy

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Labor unions are still giving Democrats climate headaches

By Alex Nieves - Politico, December 4, 2023

One of California’s most powerful unions is not loosening its grip on oil jobs.

Despite the Biden administration and California lawmakers pouring billions of dollars into new climate-friendly industries like electric vehicles, hydrogen and building electrification, a key player in state politics is still defending fossil fuel interests that provide thousands of well-paying jobs.

President Joe Biden’s investment in clean energy sectors through a pair of massive spending bills — which promise lucrative tax credits for projects that pay union wages — was supposed to speed up the labor transition away from oil and gas. That hasn’t happened in deep-blue California, home to the country’s most ambitious climate policies — and most influential labor unions.

“We believe we’re still going to be working in the oil and gas space for the foreseeable future,” said Chris Hannan, president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, which represents nearly 500,000 members across dozens of local unions, from pipefitting to electrical work.

Unions’ longstanding — and well-founded — distrust of the renewable energy industry as a reliable source of labor-friendly jobs is slowing the “just transition” that Biden, Gov. Gavin Newsom and Democratic leaders around the country have pushed.

With federal officials trying to get clean energy funding out as fast as possible ahead of the 2024 election, and California politicians cracking down on the fossil fuel industry, unions’ reluctance to relinquish fossil fuel jobs undermines Democrats’ aggressive climate targets, according to a lawmaker who serves both a union- and oil-rich area of the state.

While the union embrace of fossil fuels is unique to California — one of the few blue states with significant oil production — the struggle highlights a larger question over how states can quickly build massive amounts of clean energy infrastructure without undercutting labor.

The $23 billion question: What created California’s orphan and idle well crisis and how to solve it

By staff - Sierra Club, December 2023

California is facing an urgent climate and public health crisis: 41,568 oil wells currently sit orphan or idle, leaking methane and volatile organic compounds into the air, water, and soils in our communities. These wells are overwhelmingly located in rural and predominantly Latino counties with household incomes that are far lower than the state average.

The operators of these wells frequently attempt to delay or evade responsibility for cleaning up their wells entirely, despite enjoying extreme profits from extracting California’s natural resources for almost a century. Three oil companies- Chevron, Aera Energy, and California Resources Corporation- are responsible for 68% of the state's current idle wells.

A new Sierra Club report shows that these companies have more than enough money to pay to clean up their mess, and we present policy recommendations on how the state can ensure these costs don’t fall on taxpayers. “The $23 billion question: What created California’s orphan and idle well crisis” also shows that plugging these wells can catalyze economic revitalization through the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.

California needs to hold oil companies accountable for cleaning up and capping these wells as quickly as possible. Immediate policy action is needed from the state legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to close industry loopholes and mandate an urgent timetable for plugging these wells.

If California fails to act, billions of our tax dollars will have to foot the bill for a mess created by hugely profitable multinational corporations, and our neighborhoods will suffer chronic, life threatening health impacts of continued inaction.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Environmental Justice Equity Principles for Green Hydrogen in California

By various - California Environmental Justice Alliance, October 13, 2023

We represent heavily polluted communities throughout the State of California. Our communities border oil refineries, gas-fired power plants, industrial farming operations, fossil fuel extraction facilities, waste processing centers, ports, transportation corridors and other polluting operations. These cumulative sources of pollution cause a wide range of adverse health outcomes in working class communities of color. Our communities share a common fence with facilities and operations that emit toxins, foul smells, and noise and cause nuisance impacting people’s quality of life at all hours of the day and night.

The State of California intends to expand the use of hydrogen as a fuel, and to this end, we offer these guiding principles, which are essential to respect and protect our communities.

The following principles represent our collective values and positions to support communities as hydrogen energy is utilized across the state.

These principles were developed in 10 workshops and learning sessions for environmental justice partners across California between March and September of 2023. The learning sessions examined the current science, including risks, benefits, and unknowns, and shed light on each stage of the hydrogen cycle, including production, delivery, storage, and use. The workshops allowed our organizations to discuss different perspectives, build consensus, and reflect on how hydrogen may impact our communities. 

We adamantly oppose all non-green hydrogen proposals and projects. We insist that new projects protect communities first and do not perpetuate the injustices that polluting infrastructures impose on fence-line communities today. Each stage of the hydrogen life cycle—production, delivery, storage, and end use—can present unique risks and harms to environmental justice communities and to all Californians.

Discussions about building new green hydrogen infrastructure must involve the community, and its members should be meaningfully engaged. Siting green hydrogen infrastructure should also take into account the cumulative impacts of environmental justice communities and the risks associated with hydrogen.

Extreme heat is on everyone’s lips. Too bad it can’t get political traction

By Alexander Nieves - Politico, August 16, 2023

Scorching summer temperatures have pushed extreme heat to the front of the nation’s collective consciousness. There’s just one problem: It’s hard to get politicians to care about it.

Even in California, home of the nation’s first outdoor heat standard for workers and a new law to create a ranking system for heat waves, the issue has yet to gain political traction. Advocates have struggled to secure funding to help residents adapt, and state officials have been slow to enforce worker safety rules.

California’s handling of extreme heat doesn’t bode well for the nation’s ability to address the effects of rising temperatures, which are most likely to harm people who can’t access air conditioning and who are already in poor health.

“Our focus has been on priorities where you can get people to buy in and, frankly, where it’s sexy. It’s new technology, it’s talking about electric vehicles and rooftop solar,” said state Sen. Anna Caballero, a Central Valley Democrat who represents rural communities that are among the poorest in the state. “We haven’t focused on the impacts of climate change on lower-income families.”

While President Joe Biden announced a federal effort last week to track heat-related illnesses, California officials began paying closer attention to heat deaths in 2021, after the Los Angeles Times estimated that high temperatures had killed nearly 4,000 people between 2010 and 2019 — more than six times higher than official state figures.

The data dwarfs fatalities from more dramatic extreme weather events like wildfires, floods and windstorms. Fewer than 300 Californians died from those events over the same period of time, according to data from the National Weather Service.

The New (Renewable) Energy Tyranny

By Al Weinrub - Non Profit Quarterly, July 13, 2023

There are two very different (and antagonistic) renewable energy models: the utility-centered, centralized energy model—the existing dominant one—and the community-centered, decentralized energy model—what energy justice advocates have been pushing for. Although both models utilize the same technologies (solar generation, energy storage, and so on), they have very different physical characteristics (remote versus local energy resources, transmission lines or not). But the key difference is that they represent very different socioeconomic energy development models and very different impacts on our communities and living ecosystems.

Let me start by recounting some recent history in California—the state often regarded as a leader in the clean energy transition.

In recent years, California’s energy system has failed the state’s communities in almost too many ways to count: utility-caused wildfires, utility power shutoffs, and skyrocketing utility bills, for starters. Currently, state energy institutions are advancing an all-out effort to suppress local community ownership and control of energy resources—the decentralized energy model.

Instead, they are promoting and enforcing an outmoded, top-down, utility-centered, extractive, and unjust energy regime—the centralized energy model—which effectively eliminates local energy decision-making and local energy resource development. This model forces communities to pay the enormous costs of unneeded transmission line construction and bear the massive burden of transmission line failures.

Using the power of the state to enforce the centralized energy model is at the heart of California’s new renewable energy tyranny. And this tyranny has now spread to the federal level, as substantial public investment is now set to go toward large-scale renewable energy projects across the country. These projects will be controlled by and benefit an increasingly powerful renewable energy oligarchy. Being touted as a solution to what is popularly regarded as the “climate emergency,” this centralized energy model has actually failed to meet our communities’ energy needs, and at the same time has exacerbated systemic energy injustice.

AB 525 Port Readiness Plan

By Brooklyn Fox and Sarah Lehman - California State Lands Commission, July 7, 2023

Assembly Bill (AB) 525 (Chiu, Chapter 231, Statutes of 2021) was signed by the Governor in 2021 and requires the Californica Energy Commission (CEC), in coordination with the California Coastal Commission, Ocean Protection Council, State Lands Commission (CSLC), Office of Planning and Research, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Independent System Operator, and Public Utilities Commission (and other relevant federal, state, and local agencies as needed) to develop a strategic plan (AB 525 Strategic Plan) for offshore wind development in federal waters by June 30, 2023.

On August 1, 2022, the CEC established a planning goal of 2 to 5 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045 (Flint 2022). To meet these goals, the AB 525 Strategic Plan shall include, at a minimum, the following five chapters:

  1. Identification of sea space, including the findings and recommendations resulting from activities undertaken pursuant to Section 25991.2 of AB 525.
  2. Waterfront facilities improvements plan, including facilities that could support construction and staging of foundations, manufacturing of components, final assembly, and long-term operations and maintenance, pursuant to Section 25991.3 of AB 525. Economic and workforce development and identification of port space and infrastructure, including the plan developed pursuant to Section 25991.3 of AB 525.
  3. Transmission planning, including the findings resulting from activities undertaken pursuant to Section 25991.4 of AB 525.
  4. Permitting, including the findings resulting from activities undertaken pursuant to Section 25991.5 of AB 525.
  5. Potential impacts on coastal resources, fisheries, Native American and Indigenous peoples, and national defense, and strategies for addressing those potential impacts.

Per Section 25991.3 of AB 525, based on the sea spaces identified pursuant to Section 25991.2 of AB 525, the CEC, in coordination with relevant state and local agencies, must develop a plan to improve waterfront facilities that could support a range of floating offshore wind energy development activities, including construction and staging of foundations, manufacturing of components, final assembly, and long-term operations and maintenance facilities. The purpose of this AB 525 Port Readiness Plan is to perform a detailed assessment of the necessary investments in California ports to support offshore wind energy activities, including construction, assembly, and operations and maintenance. This report will inform the AB 525 Strategic Plan.

For more details, see: AB 525 Reports: Offshore Renewable Energy

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

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