Gaffney and Marriott: Can West Coast States Help U.S. Achieve 30 GW of Offshore Wind by 2030?


Stoel Rives’ attorneys Cherise Gaffney and Chad Marriott contributed an article to Utility Dive titled “Can West Coast states help achieve 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030?,” published June 28, 2021. The authors look at whether and to what extent the West Coast states will be able to help the Biden administration meet its goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030.

A joint announcement in May by California Governor Gavin Newsom, the White House, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Department of Defense identified two potential “Wind Energy Areas” for floating offshore wind development in California. However, based on BOEM estimates, even if the full potential of both areas is achieved, the state would only contribute 4.6 GW towards the 30 GW goal.

For Oregon and Washington, the BOEM to date has not announced any areas in the state’s coastal waters as potential sites for wind energy facilities. However, in late June Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed H.B. 3375, which would establish a goal to plan to develop up to 3 GW of floating offshore wind projects in federal waters off the Oregon coast by 2030.

The authors address several challenges in developing projects in the near-shore deep waters on the West Coast. Two main ones are the need to establish a manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure for delivering critical components, as well as to construct associated assembly facilities, and to provide a route to market for the energy the projects will generate.

The authors note also that obtaining authorization of offshore renewable projects on West Coast can be a years-long process, primarily because of environmental regulations such as the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). BOEM conducts a NEPA assessment at three different steps of the authorization process, each time requiring federal agencies to evaluate the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the proposed actions and to provide the public with opportunities to review and comment on them.

Gaffney and Marriott conclude: “Ultimately, if the Biden administration is serious about meeting its 2030 goal, it will need to be creative in order to clear the racetrack of unnecessary hurdles, inefficiencies, and invitations for process-oriented litigation.”

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