California is considering approving a proposal for a massive offshore wind project off of its northern coast, news which follows reported problems with East Coast offshore wind projects, according to Politico.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and his administration are weighing the project proposal as costs rise for East Coast developers and an unusual and substantial uptick in whale mortalities has occurred over the approximate period of time that offshore wind projects have started in waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The project would feature dozens of turbines with 100 yard-long blades, 20 miles off the shore and spread out over an area nearly 10 times the size of Manhattan in waters as deep as 2,500 feet, theoretically providing power for 20 million households when completed, according to Politico.
The project proposal aligns with the shared goal of Newsom and President Joe Biden to substantially increase the share of energy generated by green technology in the coming years, according to Politico. Biden is aiming for offshore wind to generate enough power to generate electricity for 10 million homes each year by 2030, according to the White House.
Newsom may forge ahead despite last week’s news that a California agency had voted Wednesday to extend the life of three fossil fuel-fired power plants in the state in order to ensure that enough power can be generated to keep the lights on in households across the Golden State in emergency periods of elevated energy demand. Prior to those extensions, state legislators voted in September 2022 to extend the life of California’s last remaining nuclear plant, the Diablo Canyon facility, largely for the same reasons.
A conservation group quietly alerted Senate Democrats that the development of offshore wind farms might need to “cease” to protect an endangered species of whales
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Two companies with foreign backing have leased huge areas off the coast for a combined $332 million from the federal government in order to carry out construction of the offshore wind project, according to Politico.
There are not yet any other major offshore wind developments off of the West Coast, unlike the East Coast, where some developers have started to back away from commitments as inflation and supply chain problems drive up the costs of development. A considerable uptick in whale mortalities has also coincided with the East Coast developments, an occurrence which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared an “unusual mortality event” for North Atlantic right whales and humpback whales, according to its website.
Despite the correlation of East Coast offshore wind developments and the onset of the “unusual mortality events,” federal agencies have said that there is currently no scientific data to indicate a more definitive causal relationship. Large numbers of whales inhabit the waters of the West Coast, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
California will require utility companies to procure 60% of sales from green energy sources by 2030, and the state has committed to achieving 100% green energy by 2045, according to the California Energy Commission. A separate green infrastructure project in California, the state’s planned high-speed railway, has faced years of delays and is now projected to cost about $100 billion more than initially budgeted, according to CalMatters.
Newsom’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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