CLEE’s offshore wind initiative brings together stakeholders from a wide array of sectors (including government (federal, state, local, tribal), wind developers, environmental justice organizations, labor representatives, fishing representatives, environmental protection groups, port managers, and more) to improve communication throughout the offshore wind planning process. CLEE first began its work on California offshore wind (OSW) in 2020 by convening various stakeholders to discuss the challenges of, and attempt to find common ground on, environmental mitigation in offshore wind development. In 2022, CLEE held a convening series to advance discussions around topics like transmission and federal lease stipulations, among other topics. In addition to holding stakeholder discussions and conducting outreach, CLEE conducts policy research and generates recommendations about offshore wind planning topics. Expand the sections below to learn more about CLEE’s offshore wind initiative.
In June 2021, CLEE published an offshore wind report on the OSW planning process in California, Envisioning Offshore Wind for California, noting regulatory and policy challenges and urging the inclusion of stakeholder and tribal voices in the state’s emerging industry to ensure equitable and effective development in the state. The report also pointed to a lack of spaces in which dialogue between stakeholders could occur. State and federal agency workshops at the time were few and far between and there were no gathering places, either real or virtual, for those interested in the future of offshore wind to share concerns, obtain information, and discuss common needs.
The report suggests priority actions to ensure a comprehensive, strategic approach to this new-to-California industry. It builds from input provided during two workshops from a wide range of participants, including local governments, non-profit organizations, labor representatives, fishermen, renewable energy developers, and more. CLEE convened these workshops with the intent of catalyzing broad and open conversations around OSW and determining potential pathways for future state action.
Among other findings and suggestions, the report notes that:
- California would benefit from an overarching offshore wind vision. Without a comprehensive strategy, California may lose the opportunity to maximize positive, equitable impacts and minimize adverse effects on the ocean and communities dependent on it. It is also essential that tradeoffs be made in a transparent forum.
- Stakeholders may benefit from a regular forum for ongoing offshore wind discussion that would help information flow more readily. This is especially important for keeping parties engaged and informed between decision-making points.
- While several agencies provide valuable leadership on offshore wind, establishing a centralized point of contact (a point person, existing agency, interagency working group, or new entity) responsible for gathering and distributing information about California’s OSW activities would boost transparency and ensure that all parties are working from the same baseline information. This entity could also help establish cross-cutting principles for offshore wind development.
Recent federal and state attention on California’s offshore wind potential only heightens the importance of these issues. Floating offshore wind is just emerging around the world. California has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to envision a new resource and set a gold standard for those that follow.
You can access the full report here.
CLEE’s March 2023 whitepaper, Stakeholder Engagement in California Offshore Wind, summarizes key themes heard throughout the 2022 stakeholder engagement series about the general planning process, equity and environmental justice priorities, environmental considerations, tribal government input, developer perspectives, and fishing industry input. Examples include requests for greater inclusion and engagement with stakeholders, better transparency and accessibility of data sources that inform decision making, additional studies and data collection, prioritization of community and economic benefits, development of long-term workforce training opportunities, expansion of infrastructure development plans (e.g., transmission), and clarity on permitting requirements, among others.
In 2023, CLEE will focus on Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) in the OSW context. As leaseholders and stakeholders begin to negotiate CBAs, what are the key elements of a successful CBA? How can California OSW CBAs set a model for future projects in the state and beyond? CLEE plans to explore these and other questions through roundtable discussions and policy research. As this new-to-California industry takes shape, it is crucial to continue robust, inclusive stakeholder engagement so that offshore wind delivers more than just gigawatts to California’s communities. Check back here throughout the year for additional information and publications.
Developers and communities in California have an opportunity to ensure that offshore wind energy and infrastructure projects empower and uplift communities by negotiating and implementing robust Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs). A Community Benefits Agreement, or CBA, is a legally binding, enforceable contract signed by project developers and community groups or coalitions of groups. CBAs can help create space for residents to have a voice in the future of their communities and can expand economic opportunity and make development more equitable. CBAs can also increase transparency and enforceability of outcomes, boost coalition building, and clarify outcomes. CLEE’s Issue Brief, Offshore Wind & Community Benefits Agreements in California: An Introduction, examines Community Benefits Agreements and explores how they might be relevant in the California offshore wind context.
CLEE shares offshore wind perspectives on Legal Planet. Check back here and on Legal Planet throughout the year as more posts will be added.
- The Inflation Reduction Act and California Offshore Wind by Katherine Hoff, August 25, 2022
- California Offshore Wind Auction Results in Five Provisional Winners by Katie Segal, December 9, 2022
- Stakeholder Engagement in California Offshore Wind Development by Katherine Hoff, March 16, 2023
- Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) Can Provide Tools for Communities Negotiating Offshore Wind Development by Katherine Hoff, June 21, 2023