CLEE Offshore Wind Papers




Offshore Wind & Community Benefits Agreements in California: CBA ExamplesReport cover with wind turbines in the background. Blue banner at the top reads: "Title reads: "OFFSHORE WIND & Community Benefits Agreements IN CALIFORNIA"

California’s goal of achieving 25 gigawatts of offshore wind electricity by 2045 will help the State meet its carbon neutrality target and will also have transformative effects on the State’s economy and communities. Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are tools that can enable local communities to have a voice in the development of new projects and ensure that the state’s transition to offshore wind creates sustainable, equitable economic opportunity, and local investment. CLEE’s report, Offshore Wind & Community Benefits Agreements in California: CBA Examples, highlights the community-oriented measures and CBAs in California’s existing offshore wind leases and presents select CBA examples and community benefits provisions from the real estate and manufacturing sectors, as well as from east coast and UK wind farm projects. These examples can provide important models and lessons for offshore wind development in California. The report also lifts up important considerations and elements—such as CBA structure, process and representation, and oversight and accountability—that can help ensure future California CBAs are rooted in impacted communities and reflect stakeholders’ values and needs. 

Watch our Lunch & Learn Webinar, “California Offshore Wind & Community Benefits Agreements: CBA Examples,” here



Offshore Wind & Community Benefits Agreements in California: An Introduction
Report cover. Links to readable report.

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.

Stakeholder Engagement in California Offshore Wind

CLEE’s March 2023 whitepaper, Stakeholder Engagement in California Offshore Cover photo of report showing offshore wind turbineWind, 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. 



Envisioning Offshore Wind for California

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 Envisioning Offshore Wind for California report covervoices 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.