Creating jobs in CA by developing a new clean energy resource


As the Biden administration steps up efforts to expand offshore wind resources, this report finds that development of floating offshore wind in the waters off of Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay in California could create and support nearly 175,000 jobs, add $45 billion to the state’s economy, and produce 4.6 GW of wind energy.

California and federal lawmakers have an opportunity to hasten development—and scale the deployment—of this valuable new technology by enacting appropriate policies now. This is especially urgent on the heels of President Joe Biden signing into law the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022. This bill includes full-value tax incentives for the manufacturing and deployment of technologies like offshore wind in the U.S. The IRA also includes billions of dollars for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help scale up technologies like floating offshore wind.

Offshore wind will diversify California’s renewable energy supply. This is critical to a stable electric grid and, crucially, can help the state achieve its long-term clean energy and climate ambitions in a least-cost manner. At the same time, floating offshore wind can create tens of thousands of new jobs for Californians, benefit underserved communities, and generate billions of dollars’ worth of wages, investments, economic benefits and tax revenues at the state, local and federal levels.

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Policy Matters

California has been a global climate leader by passing policies that have created the market structures necessary to drive innovation, build the state’s clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions. To maximize the economic benefits of harnessing the state’s offshore wind resources—especially in light of the major federal clean energy investments in the Inflation Reduction Act—state and federal governments must advance policies that will drive a sustainable, resilient offshore wind industry in California. Specifically, this includes:

// Development of a strategic plan by the end of 2023 that formalizes targets; identifies suitable sea space, programs and funding; advances economic and workforce development and in-state manufacturing opportunities; optimizes transmission planning and permitting; identifies potential impacts on ocean uses and the environment, as well as strategies for addressing those potential impacts; and helps de-risk projects early on in order to provide greater certainty for the industry.

// Ensuring that AB 525 requires the CEC to develop a permitting road-map that describes timeframes and milestones for a permitting process for offshore wind energy facilities and associated electricity and transmission infrastructure off the coast of California.

// The State of California must investigate the need for—and, if warranted, approve construction of—a subsea transmission cable from the Los Angeles Basin to Diablo Canyon. This could resolve current regional transmission constraints, reduce dependency on dirty natural gas peaker plants, and minimize threats of grid-induced wildfire, while providing transmission capacity to connect Southern California with potential future offshore wind development.

// State officials must leverage funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act dedicated for grid modernization to upgrade the grid for offshore wind energy integration.

// Congress must invest more in grid modernization including passing a grid modernization tax credit that is essential to the development of offshore wind and the deployment of utility scale clean energy generally.

// The CEC, in partnership with the Ocean Protection Council and BOEM, must make continued investments in environmental planning and mapping for offshore wind development, primarily through the funding and support of the Offshore Wind Data Basin.

// The State should develop and fund an institute—under the purview of the California Coastal Commission—dedicated to the collecting and public sharing of data related to the monitoring and mitigation of ocean ecosystem impacts.

// BOEM must incorporate ocean ecosystem impact monitoring and mitigation stipulations in its lease agreements.

About this Report

The research team estimated local economic impacts for the Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay offshore wind projects using NREL’s modeling tool Jobs and Economic Development Impact (JEDI). JEDI is an input-output modeling tool used to generate outputs for employment, Gross Regional Product (GRP) and earnings for the construction and operations of a particular offshore wind project. The model illustrates the interdependent relationships between the different sectors of a region’s economy, to produce employment figures that vary according to the modeled project’s energy output and local content. The offshore wind activities modeled for the two locations are used as inputs into the model to estimate the multiplier effect on business, household, and government expenditures and industry employment. JEDI estimates these effects based on facility size, energy output, year of construction and the built-in economic multipliers specific to the project location. The economic outputs outlined in this report include:

// Jobs created from the construction of offshore wind facilities with 1.8 GW of capacity in Morro Bay and 1.2 GW in Humboldt Bay by 2030, a total of 3 GW in capacity across both sites.

// Jobs created from the construction of 4.2 GW of additional capacity in Morro Bay and 2.8 GW in Humboldt Bay between 2030 and 2040, to reach a total of 10 GW of offshore wind capacity across both sites.

// Annual number of jobs created for the operation of the initial 3 GW installed by 2030.

// Annual number of jobs created for the operation of 10 GW installed by 2040.

// Employment split by industry for Construction and Operations phases.

// Labor income resulting from jobs created by offshore wind projects.

// Additional GRP for Morro Bay and Humboldt Bay because of economic activity from offshore wind projects.

// Local, state, and federal tax revenue for Phases 1 and 2.

For questions on this report, methodology, reported job numbers, or requests for specific additional data, email E2 Communications Director Michael Timberlake (

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