The California Senate has granted permission to Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration to purchase significant amounts of electricity in order to prevent power outages and support the development of the state’s offshore wind industry. Last year, five companies paid around $750 million to lease areas off the coast of California for wind turbine projects that could generate enough electricity to power 3.5 million homes. However, utility companies have been hesitant to commit to purchasing power from these projects due to cost and construction timelines.
The newly approved bill would allow the state to buy the electricity and finance it through a surcharge on Californians’ electricity bills. Consumers will not pay the surcharge until the wind projects are operational, which could take several years. Advocates argue that the bill will ultimately save people money on their long-term electricity bills.
California aims to obtain all of its electricity from renewable or non-carbon sources by 2045. Offshore wind projects are considered a key component in achieving this goal, especially because they generate the most energy during the night when solar energy is less abundant. By purchasing all the electricity from these projects, advocates believe that costs can be controlled and electric rates can be kept lower.
The bill also includes provisions to streamline the approval process for new transmission projects. The Department of Water Resources would have the authority to purchase the energy until 2035, at which point lawmakers would need to vote to extend the authority.
California has been working to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels but has faced challenges in maintaining a reliable and clean energy supply. The state experienced power outages during an extreme heatwave in 2020 and has since invested billions of dollars in constructing a strategic reliability reserve. The new bill aims to prevent an overreliance on this reserve, which includes gas generators.
Source: CBS News
– Offshore wind: Wind turbines installed in bodies of water, usually in the ocean, to harness wind energy and generate electricity.
– Power outages: Periods of time when there is a loss of electrical power in a specific area.
– Surcharge: An additional charge or fee added to the cost of a service or product.
– Renewable energy: Energy derived from sources that cannot be depleted, such as sunlight, wind, and water.
– Non-carbon sources: Energy sources that do not release carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases when used. These include renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.