On Wednesday, a state government committee meeting in Sacramento featured several Humboldt County stakeholders to discuss the future of offshore wind power in the county.
The meeting of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, which North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire chairs, did not make any permanent decisions about offshore wind in the state, but several key players in Humboldt County were present in Sacramento to air thoughts on the pressing issues facing development. One particular concern McGuire addressed was Humboldt County’s electrical transmission lines, which would not be able to effectively transmit the power generated by offshore wind.
“(The transmission lines are) antiquated. I will take a moment to say PG&E … if we’re looking at the Humboldt (County) call area, they have not kept up on their deferred maintenance, there is no way in hell that the current lines that we have available are going to be able to take on the additional load,” McGuire said.
He noted that he is working with Cal Poly Humboldt and the Schatz Energy Research Center to develop a federal grant application to fund the research of transmission corridors. He also said that the only way to pay for improvements would be to pass the cost onto the ratepayers, a politically risky move due to the already high bills people pay to PG&E on the North Coast.
McGuire expressed frustration with staffing levels and the budgetary ability to move quickly, citing the California Coastal Commission’s single staffer.
“In all candor, there is no way this industry is going to get off the ground in the state of California, there is no way that we’re going to meet our green energy goals if we don’t step up the appropriate permit agencies. I mean, that’s the bottom line of it. The Coastal Commission can’t do it with this one staff (member). So I think we need to acknowledge that in budgets, our value statements, and if we value our climate, and we value that expediting and weaning ourselves off of fossil fuels, we’re going to invest in the people that are going to be able to get it done.”

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