As we know, California is exciting the offshore wind world with it’s floating wind opportunities, but the regulatory journey will be complex. Our regulatory and permitting expert, with many years of experience in consenting energy and infrastructure projects in California, had some thoughts.
“After working in the offshore wind industry for years, this week I attended my first Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) California Renewable Energy Intergovernmental Task Force meeting. With over 38 governmental agencies represented, and 300+ stakeholders and interested parties attending via conference call it was an informative call, but also a reminder of what it’s like to site and permit an infrastructure project in California. This was the third Task Force meeting since its establishment in 2016 and discussions were centrally focused on the progress since the last meeting in 2018, the status of the Area Identification process (mainly Central Coast considerations), and discussion of next steps. Having supported several successful renewable energy and marine infrastructure projects through the Federal and State regulatory and permitting processes in California, I know that although frameworks follow a similar approach to the Northeast states, developers familiar with what is happening now on the east coast may be surprised to find a somewhat different overall experience in California.
I was reminded during the Task Force meeting that California Stakeholders have not only a history but also a strong expectation of integral involvement, even at the earliest stages of planning for new infrastructure projects. They are well informed and knowledgeable of the various land use considerations, regional natural habitats, and sensitive species, and are familiar with the public disclosure and comment/communications opportunities afforded Stakeholders relevant to their industries and communities. They want to be informed, involved and heard. Although this is the case for many Stakeholders in various regions of the U.S, it is particularly true for Californians. As such, pro-active Stakeholder outreach (particularly shared use and community Stakeholders) will be a critical planning component for successful offshore wind development projects, and active engagement in California will serve to secure solid baselines for relationship and trust-building during post-lease project planning and development stages for this new-to-the-region industry.”