Legislators Unveil Measure to Ask Voters for $1 Billion Offshore Wind Bond 

A Block Island Wind Farm turbine operates Dec. 7, 2023, off the coast of Block Island, R.I., during a tour organized by Orsted. (Photo by Julia Nikhinson, AP Photo)

By Alejandro Lazo, CalMatters

In a step toward building the first massive wind farms off California’s coast, three Assemblymembers today proposed a $1 billion bond act to help pay for the expansion of ports.

The bill, if approved, would place a bond before voters aimed at helping ports build capacity to assemble, construct and transport wind turbines and other large equipment. Long Beach and Humboldt County have plans to build such expansion projects.

Port expansion is considered critical to the viability of offshore wind projects, which are a key component of the state’s ambitious goal to switch to 100% clean energy. The California Energy Commission projects that offshore wind farms will supply 25 gigawatts of electricity by 2045, powering 25 million homes and providing about 13% of the power supply.

The first step to building these giant floating platforms has already been taken: The federal government has leased 583 square miles of ocean waters about 20 miles off Humboldt Bay and the Central Coast’s Morro Bay to five energy companies. The proposed wind farms would hold hundreds of giant turbines, each as tall as a skyscraper, about 900 feet high. The technology for floating wind farms has never been used in such deep waters, far off the coast.

An extensive network of offshore and onshore development would be necessary. Costly upgrades to ports will be critical, along with undersea transmission lines, new electrical distribution networks and more.

The Port of Long Beach, for instance, is planning a $4.7 billion, 400-acre offshore wind turbine assembly terminal. It is the only port in California close to being able to handle this, according to previous CalMatters reporting.

In Humboldt County, some federal grants have been awarded to develop the port for wind farms. The federal Department of Transportation last month awarded the Humboldt Bay harbor district  $426.7 million to build a new marine terminal where turbines can be assembled and transported.

The proposed bond measure was announced today by Rick Chavez Zbur, a Democrat from Los Angeles, as well as other members of the Assembly. Jim Wood, a Democrat from Ukiah, and Josh Lowenthal, a Democrat from Long Beach, are coauthors.

Two separate climate bond bills also aim to pay for climate-related projects, such as shoring up vulnerable communities and wildfire prevention efforts. Each house has passed its own version of a bond. Negotiations over whether they will appear on the November ballot remain open.

The debate over adding debt comes as California faces a projected $38 billion deficit, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s estimate last month.

Zbur, the lead author of AB 2208, the offshore wind bond bill, said at a press conference today that he is in talks with legislators who authored  the climate bonds about earmarking funds for offshore wind in lieu of moving ahead with his proposed bond measure.

“We are engaged with discussions with them on that, and that would be another alternative to moving forward,” Zbur said. “Our goal today is really to make sure that this $1 billion is included in the range of bonds.”

CalMatters has reported that offshore wind has raised many issues for California since it is experimental technology on a fast track off Humboldt County and Morro Bay. Humboldt officials hope the projects would boost their struggling economy, while some Central Coast residents are fighting the wind farms because they say it would industrialize their coastline.

This article was originally published by CalMatters.


Written by CalMatters

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics. (Articles are published in partnership with edhat.com)

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  1. Nope. Our marine environment is too fragile for massive experimental technology. You do not have to be a marine biologist to know that huge floating turbines will cause noise and vibrations underwater. Not to mention ports, their infrastructure and shipping are the biggest polluters on our coast.

  2. You know this is a great idea, but why is it up to the property owners that have to pay for it? Many people don’t realize this will be added to their property taxes. If you rent, guess what this will be added to your next rental increase. The politicians just don’t want to vote for this themselves. And many of these same politicians are trying to gut Prop 13.
    No more new taxes

      • I agree, Prop 13 has got to go – it’s killing the average family/first time home buyer in CA. Middle class folks are paying ridiculously more property taxes than the ‘legacy’ landowners, whether they’re corporate or just old folks. It’s so frickin’ lopsided, it’s completely unfair. It SHOULD be gutted. Oh yeah, a few will go ahead and hit me with the “don’t kick grandma out of her house” arugment. I don’t buy into that at all. Taxpayer burden isn’t even close to being balanced out.

  3. When GOVERNMENT intervenes into any business venture or MANDATES, it is a DISASTER… Wind machines are not viable based on their environmental impact, production of minimal energy per dollar or kilowatt and are an eyesore. California is IN DEBT. The State has no business funding our taxpayer funds towards ANY project, even projects that make Legislators feel good about themselves, hand wringing the Green Agenda.

  4. Two wrongs do not make anything right. Forcing elderly folks out of their homes and massive government subsidies for energy will not make California better, only worse.

    Socialism and communism will not solve your problems.

    This state has benefitted greatly by its existence for the past 47 years. Many of you wouldn’t want to come anywhere near California had P13 not protected this state for so many decades. Those who think otherwise are sorely mistaken and on the wrong side of history.

  5. I could care less whether they build it or not. What I do care about is adding additional tax burden on California taxpayers. The highest in the nation
    If it’s that important for legislators let them reallocate funds to prioritize their pet projects.
    The days of more taxation and more spending needs to come to an end.

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