Offshore Renewable Energy Task Force launched by BOEM, California

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the State of California held the inaugural meeting of the California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Oct. 13 in Sacramento, California, to begin planning for future renewable wind and wave energy development opportunities in federal offshore waters along the Golden State.

California is the 14th U.S. coastal state to form a renewable energy task force to provide critical information to the decision-making process, including how to resolve potential conflicts between development and environmental concerns and other uses. The California task force will facilitate coordination and communication between BOEM and state, local, and tribal governments and other federal agencies concerning potential renewable energy leasing for research activities and commercial development on federal submerged lands on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), offshore California. California Governor Jerry Brown requested formation of the task force in a May 12, 2016 letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“Today’s inaugural meeting of the California Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force underscores the Obama Administration’s commitment to combating the effects of climate change and marks an important step in California’s role as a leader in renewable energy development,” said Janice Schneider, Interior Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. “California, with its track record of collaborative planning to bring online land-based renewable energy projects, now sets its eye to the sea to begin early planning on how Pacific offshore winds and waves may one day help the state meet its aggressive renewable energy goal.”

In April 2009, the Obama Administration announced the final framework for renewable energy development on the OCS. This framework establishes the process BOEM uses for granting leases, easements and rights-of-way for offshore renewable energy development activities, such as the siting and construction of facilities on the OCS. The framework also allows for BOEM to use task forces in carrying out its responsibilities for authorizing OCS renewable energy activities.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), areas off the west coast of the United States and Hawaii hold great renewable energy potential. This technical potential presents a compelling market opportunity that would assist states in meeting many of their ambitious and critically important renewable energy goals. In particular, NREL estimates areas off California have the technical potential to generate about 392 terawatt hours of electricity from offshore wind per year. This potential is about 1.5 times the total electricity consumption of the state, based on 2014 statistics.