Bills of 2023 | New law aims to boost clean energy

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Editor’s note: The Signal is presenting CalMatters’ wrap-up stories on some of the key bills that reached the governor’s desk at the close of the 2023 legislative session. Here’s the CalMatters summary of a bill that, among other things, encourages development of offshore wind energy projects. 

By Julie Cart 
CalMatters Writer 

Assembly Bill 1373 gives the state Department of Water Resources the authority to procure clean power when needed — offshore wind, geothermal and long duration storage in particular — under the direction of the Public Utilities Commission.  

It directs the Legislature to allocate $6 million to conduct monitoring and research into potential impacts of floating offshore wind projects. The bill — authored by Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia and Phil Ting and Sen. Josh Becker — also gives the department the right to issue bonds to pay for the cost of buying the new power. 

Who Supports It 

A mix of environmental and clean energy groups say that supporting nascent green-energy technology will hasten California’s ability to reach its renewable energy goals. Construction trades and unions support the development, which is expected to create new jobs in especially hard-hit parts of the state, as does the statewide association of port authorities, where extensive expansion will be required to stand up the new wind industry. 

Who Is Opposed 

Various energy producers, local utilities, cities and counties argue that the bill gives the Utilities Commission authority over local community choice power providers. Other groups say that the state entering competitive energy markets is likely to be disruptive and may raise utility costs for ratepayers.  

Why It Matters 

The bill is intended as a shot in the arm to the floating offshore wind industry, which is still in its infancy in California and faces high development costs and financial risk.  

Wind companies, which hold offshore leases in federal and state waters, have been asking for assurance from state officials that there will be a market for their renewable power when the projects get up and running. The industry says that making the state a customer for the future power source will give investors confidence to help build the projects. 

The Governor’s Call 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Oct. 7 he signed the bill. 

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