Energy Commission Sets California Offshore Wind Target of 25 GW by 2045

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The California Energy Commission (CEC), on August 10, adopted a report establishing offshore wind planning targets of 2-5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045. An earlier draft report in May had proposed planning goals of 3 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 10-15 GW by 2045, but newly released studies and additional public comments led to the revised planning goals. The increased targets also follow Governor Gavin Newsom’s call for the CEC to establish a planning goal of at least 20 GW by 2045 in his July 22 letter to the California Air Resources Board.

The CEC characterizes the planning goals as “potentially achievable but aspirational” and being set at levels that “can contribute significantly to California’s climate goals,” including Senate Bill 100’s goal requiring all retail sales of electricity to be provided by zero-carbon resources by 2045.

In addition to setting offshore wind planning goals, Assembly Bill (AB) 525, which was signed by Governor Newsom in September 2021, directs the CEC to quantify the “maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind.”  The CEC set a reference point maximum feasible capacity of nearly 21.8 GW, but will make its final determination after further study and in conjunction with its development of a strategic plan for California offshore wind development also required by AB 525.

The CEC’s report brings the state one step closer to development of clean energy off the California coast.  Another important step could take place later this year.  The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has proposed an auction for five lease areas located in the Humboldt and Morro Bay wind energy areas with a potential capacity of 4.5 GW—within the range of the CEC’s 2030 planning goal.

If you’re interested in learning more about offshore wind development in California, Downey Brand attorneys recently organized and participated in a webinar co-hosted by Integral Consulting Inc. and H.T. Harvey & Associates on Navigating CA’s Unique Legal, Permitting, and Environmental Risks. View a recording of the webinar here.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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