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California offshore wind projects picking up steam

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Suzanne Potter

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(California News Service) The California Energy Commission has just released its strategic plan for offshore wind, and more than 200 elected officials across the state have signed a letter calling for an inclusive, equitable transition to clean energy.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is taking public comment now through Feb. 20 on how it should proceed with an environmental impact statement on five offshore projects planned near Morro Bay and Humboldt.

Heidi Harmon, former mayor of San Luis Obispo, applauded the effort to fast-track offshore wind.

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"California is laying the groundwork to power 25 million homes with 25 gigawatts of clean, floating turbine offshore wind electricity by 2045," Harmon pointed out. "It's critical that we process offshore wind in a way that ensures that our workers and communities receive the benefits from this new industry."

In October, lawmakers passed a bill to allow the state to buy power from the offshore wind projects. It also promotes port development, supply-chain businesses and workforce investment and training.

Clint Weirick, a city council member in Grover Beach City, said the Central Coast welcomes the new industry, which will reduce U.S. reliance on dirty fossil fuels linked to climate change and provide a big economic boost.

"Transitioning to a clean-energy future isn't just a win for the environment, it's a win for all local businesses too," Weirick contended. "The strong offshore wind industry will create thousands of good-paying union jobs to help working families."

Cate Rogers, deputy supervisor for the town of East Hampton, New York, which has suffered serious flooding and erosion in recent storms, said the buildout of an offshore wind farm there is moving along with minimal disruption to the community.

"We only have one solution, and that is the immediate transition to renewable energy," Rogers asserted. "We cannot waste such valuable natural resources as offshore wind and not use every bit of it that we can."