May 22, 2024

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From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Legislators: Offshore wind energy could power half of all Oregon homes by 2030

5 min read
The Oregon House passed a bill last week to study offshore wind energy.

The Oregon House passed a bill last week to study offshore wind energy.

Rep. Ken Helm: This is a huge amount of energy. That’s why it’s been called ‘the Saudi Arabia of wind.’ And it’s right off of our coast. This is the best wind resource on either side of the United States.

State representatives spoke in favor of House Bill 3375 just before its final passage by the House last week. House Speaker Tina Kotek.

Rep. Tina Kotek: [00:00:29] Question arises upon third reading and final passage of House Bill 3375 A. Representative Brock Smith.

Rep. David Brock Smith: [00:00:35] Madam Speaker, colleagues: I’m excited to bring you House Bill 3375. I think this is potentially one of the great bills of this session. House Bill 3375 is going to set up a planning with Oregon Department of Energy to look at working with BOEM (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management) and other federal agencies on three gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.

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I can’t tell you how enthusiastic I am about the possibility of moving forward, not only with this offshore wind opportunities and the investments that are coming from the federal governments under the Biden administration, but the opportunity to possibly power from that offshore wind, a renewable hydrogen facility in the port of Coos Bay, and at that point, having the state of Oregon being an energy exporter rather than energy importer. So this idea transcends other legislation that we have in this body. But the planning needs to start now.

Senator (Lee) Beyer has SB 333A  that looks at planning for those hydrogen facilities. The president has said he wants to see 50 of those renewable hydrogen facilities around the nation. And we have a great opportunity to actually fund renewable hydrogen with federal help, but power it with other renewable energy.

John Q: [00:01:57] David Brock Smith is a Republican from House District One. His district includes coastline from Coos Bay to California.

Rep. David Brock Smith: [00:02:04] Some people have asked, Representative, why are you bringing this bill forward? Hey, I’ve always believed in renewables and how we can access their energy too, as long as it’s as affordable for our residents. But more importantly, in this instance, that wind resource that we have off of Oregon is off of my district. And so the fishers that are going to be impacted by this process, I’ve been in dialogue with and will continue to be in collaboration with them as we move forward with this process.

So colleagues, this is an exciting opportunity for Oregon to get in front of the planning that’s necessary to have this resource and I would appreciate your Aye vote. Thank you.

Rep. Tina Kotek: [00:02:48] Thank you, Representative. We are now under the discussion of House Bill 3375A. Rep. Wilde.

Rep. Marty Wilde: [00:02:56] I’d like to briefly add my voice in support to this bill. To achieve a green energy future, we need more projects like this: projects that provide a sustained baseload and even excess energy that can be stored as hydrogen or otherwise to displace carbon-intensive fuels on land. But even more, we need a green future that works for everyone. In addition to some of the best offshore wind potentials in the country, this is a part of our state that needs more investment in projects that will result in long-term jobs. All of that takes planning, and that’s what this bill does. I urge your Aye vote.

Rep. Tina Kotek: [00:03:26] Thank you, Representative, for the discussion. Representative Holvey… To the bill.

Rep. Paul Holvey: [00:03:29] I think this bill’s a really great idea. I totally support the bill. I just wanted to flag that  I remain concerned about the budget of the Department of Energy, which has been reduced session after session, quite a lot. And so I’m I am a little bit worried about their capacity to take on a lot more work. And I hope that the Natural Resources Subcommittee will look at that when their budget comes up. Thank you.

Rep. Tina Kotek: [00:03:58] Thank you, Representative, for the discussion. Rep. Helm…To the bill.

Rep. Ken Helm: [00:04:02] I don’t want it to be lost on us just how big this opportunity is. A gigawatt is enough to power 700,000 homes. So a gigawatt hour is an instant of time that is sufficient to power 700,000 residential homes. So three of those is about little more than half of our population. This is a huge amount of energy. That’s why it’s been called the Saudi Arabia of wind. And it’s right off of our coast. This is the best wind resource on either side of the United States.

And it is critical that we start developing it, not just because it’s a great renewable energy resource, but because transmitting that electricity off of the West coast to the rest of the grid naturally will occur through Oregon. The resources in Northern California are not adequate and they will not become adequate for this job in the near future. This is a ripe opportunity for Oregon, not only to become more energy-efficient ourselves, let alone the the capacity to develop the hydrogen resources that the good Representative mentioned, but for us to become an energy exporter and for Oregonians to reap the benefit of these green jobs.

So I don’t want that to be lost on our body. This is brought to us as a humble study bill, a study bill that will give us results, by the way, while we’re all still in office. The report is supposed to come by September, 2022, and maybe we’ll be able to do something useful with it by then. Let’s not lose the opportunity to grab onto this while we can. Colleagues, I urge an Aye vote.

Rep. Tina Kotek: [00:06:02] Thank you, Representative. Those of the opinion the bill will pass vote Aye, those opposed No. The clerk will open the voting system….  3375A, having received a constitutional majority, is declared passed. 

John Q: [00:06:13] The sovereign tribal government also supports research into clean renewable floating offshore wind energy. A resolution, 20-084, was passed in 2020 by the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians. HB 3375 now moves to the Senate.

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