Thursday, September 28, 2023

California wants to expand offshore wind energy to avoid power outages

The California Senate has approved a measure that would give Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration the authority to purchase a significant amount of electricity, aiming to avoid blackouts and boost the state’s offshore wind industry. Five companies paid about $750 million last year for leases to develop wind turbine projects off the California coast that could generate enough electricity for 3.5 million homes. However, due to cost and time constraints, utilities have been reluctant to purchase power from these projects.

The bill, which still needs to be approved by the state Assembly, would allow the state to purchase the electricity, funded by a surcharge on Californians’ electric bills. Consumers would only have to pay this surcharge once the wind power projects are in operation, which will probably be the case in a few years. Proponents of the measure argue that it will save consumers money in the long run because it requires the state to switch exclusively to renewable or carbon-free electricity sources by 2045.

Offshore wind projects are considered a crucial part of achieving this renewable energy goal because they generate electricity primarily at night, when solar energy is less available. Proponents believe it would be more efficient for the state to buy all the electricity from offshore wind projects rather than distributing it to multiple utilities. The bill also gives the Department of Water Resources authority to purchase energy, but that authority would expire in 2035, requiring lawmakers to vote on an extension.

California has quickly transitioned away from fossil fuels, banning the sale of most new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. However, the state faced challenges in maintaining a stable, clean and reliable energy supply. A heat wave in 2020 overloaded the power grid, causing blackouts, and subsequent heat waves put energy resources under pressure.

Opponents of the bill argue that the surcharge on electricity bills will place a burden on consumers, while supporters argue that it is necessary to minimize costs and achieve climate goals. The bill also contains provisions to accelerate the development of new electric transmission projects.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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