What’s happening with offshore wind in the U.S.?

How can states realize offshore wind potential? Webinar outlines how to make offshore wind a reality in states across the U.S.

Wind power

offshore wind turbines

Momentum behind offshore wind is increasing in California and across the country as states embrace the vast renewable energy potential that offshore wind provides. In 2021 America produced enough wind energy to power 35 million homes, and we’re just scratching the surface in capturing wind energy along the nation’s coastlines. 

Offshore wind is a burgeoning renewable energy source across the country, garnering support from a broad array of decision makers and experts like former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There is no doubt that offshore wind is an important part of California’s energy portfolio. By deploying this clean energy resource, we can create thousands of jobs and meet our energy demands, all while reducing emissions and cleaning up our air. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Former California Governor

On February 7, 2023, experts, advocates, and decision makers convened for “Making offshore wind a reality,” a legislative briefing webinar hosted by Environment America to discuss legislation to catalyze offshore wind development and set ambitious planning goals. Highlighting state action across the country on offshore wind, speakers discussed the progress, opportunities, and potential of offshore wind to help achieve the vision of 100% clean energy.

Speakers at the event included:

  • David Hochschild, Chair, California Energy Commission (CEC)
  • Stephanie McClellan, Executive Director, Turn Forward
  • Dan Jacobson, Senior Advisor, Environment California

Watch the recording of “Making offshore wind a reality” here:

Offshore wind in California

Dan Jacobson began by discussing the importance of offshore wind and its growing momentum across the country, with offshore wind goals being set at the national and state levels.

Offshore wind is an incredibly exciting issue to be working on right now. Just recently, the California Energy Commission set a goal that would make California the leader in offshore wind around the country. Dan Jacobson
Senior Advisor, Environment California

CEC Chair David Hochschild highlighted the recent progress California has made on offshore wind and laid out the state’s process of setting its ambitious goal of 25 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2045. 

We pride ourselves on being first on electric vehicles, energy storage and rooftop solar, but really California is behind the East coast and Europe on offshore wind. David Hochschild
Chair, California Energy Commission

California and other West coast states have a lot to learn from the East coast, where many states already have offshore wind turbines operating. The state’s deep waters mean that California will pursue floating offshore wind, which has proven to be well-designed and stable. California has also joined the National Offshore Wind Research & Development Consortium to support offshore wind research in an effort to drive costs down and reduce the risks associated with new offshore wind technologies.

Chair Hochschild noted that the state is adding about 1,000 electric vehicles per day, and as California electrifies its economy more, we will need more clean energy capacity like offshore wind.

Offshore wind plays a really unique and important role. It produces power at precisely the time of day when we most need it, in late afternoons and early evenings when solar is going down. David Hochschild
Chair, California Energy Commission

A priority for California as it develops offshore wind is to ensure that the process delivers benefits to local communities, lifting up the communities where projects are being installed. Chair Hochschild noted how California wants to deliver the benefits of its offshore wind, like assembly and manufacturing, within the state as much as possible.

A final key piece of California’s offshore wind process has been frequent consultation with communities and stakeholders throughout the state. According to Chair Hochschild, the state has had approximately 200 separate meetings and 30 public workshops and hearings on offshore wind so far. These meetings will continue as the state moves forward to ensure that all have the opportunity to learn about and weigh in on the offshore wind development process in California.

Offshore wind across America

Stephanie McClellan focused on the offshore wind landscape in states across the country, and started off by highlighting the Biden administration’s recent milestone commitment to reach 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and 15 gigawatts of floating offshore wind by 2035. Turn Forward’s goal is to ensure the nation is on a path to at least 100 total gigawatts of offshore wind between national and state commitments. Stephanie noted how we need to get started now to meet this goal.

Stephanie reviewed the important offshore wind planning goals, mandates, and targets from 10 different states that have committed to a future with more offshore wind. States with these goals include New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, California, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Rhode Island. Collectively, these states will build over 75 gigawatts of offshore wind within the next few decades based on their existing targets.

Offshore wind not only benefits local communities by providing clean energy, it can also benefit states across the nation. Stephanie cited an example of just one American offshore wind developer whose supply chain extends through and provides benefits to 38 states. This means that offshore wind can benefit large swaths of the country, not just coastal states that benefit from the electricity produced from the wind turbines.

A survey conducted by Turn Forward in November, 2022 indicated that seven out of ten U.S. coastal voters support offshore wind due to its ability to provide large scale renewable energy and create American jobs. Majorities also believe that offshore wind will be beneficial to both the climate and the economy. “This [strong momentum behind offshore wind power] was unimaginable just a couple of years ago,” Stephanie noted. 

Policy and advocacy attention now has to be focused on making sure that offshore wind’s positive impacts are as broad and deep as our use of offshore wind is going to be. Stephanie McClellan
Executive Director, Turn Forward

Stephanie pointed out how we’re already seeing that offshore wind is lifting communities on the East coast. Brayton Point in Somerset, Massachusetts, was once the site of New England’s largest coal-fired power plant, but it will now help launch the offshore wind industry in the region with port logistics and cable transmission, thus replacing a dirty energy source with a hub for new clean energy jobs. 

Offshore wind development, installation, construction, and operation must also protect marine life and coastal marine resources, which will require monitoring and other strategies to minimize impacts. 

Finally, Stephanie discussed different forums for advancing offshore wind in the United states at the federal, state, and industry levels. There are opportunities to advocate for offshore wind at all of these levels, from federal leasing and permit reviews, to state procurement processes and stakeholder outreach, to industry commitments and investments and much more.

Panelists David Hochschild and Stephanie McClellan along with Environment California staffPhoto by Steven King | TPIN


Steven King

Clean Energy Advocate, Environment California

Steven leads Environment California’s campaigns to increase clean, renewable energy throughout the Golden State, spearheading efforts to transition away from dangerous fossil fuels and address climate change. Steven lives in Los Angeles where he enjoys spending time outdoors, watching his favorite L.A. sports teams, and playing the trombone.

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