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Cyrus Ramezani, PhD and Mahdi Rastad, PhD

Summary: The transition to clean energy resources, particularly the development of the Floating Off Shore Wind (FOSW) industry, is expected to bring numerous employment opportunities and major private and public investments to California's Central Coast. The Morro Bay Wind Energy Area (WEA) is poised to play a pivotal role in this transition, potentially generating 3 GW of green energy by 2030.

This study presents the findings from an economic impact analysis of the proposed FOSW projects in Central Coast region. Our analysis indicates that globally a 1 GW development will create nearly 31,000 FTE jobs during the six-year construction phase and about 850 annual jobs during its 25-year operational phase. Under the best local content scenario, roughly 40% of manufacturing and construction jobs, and over 80% of the operations and maintenance jobs could be filled in California. Given the 3 GW capacity of the Morro Bay project, this translates into over 2000 annual local jobs closer to the Morro Bay area during the operational phase and nearly 40,000 FTE jobs during the construction phase located mainly at the ports and manufacturing facilities in California.  

The report also presents estimates of the labor gap for top FOSW occupations types (by SOC codes) for California, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo Counties. The labor supply gap estimates provide critical information for the development of educational and skill training programs to meet California’s clean energy goals. We show that while the California labor market can partially meet the demand for specialized workers, there will be a significant workforce gap for blue-collar occupations such as wind turbine service technicians, metal/steel production, and transportation workers. To address this shortfall, over the short-term, California's FOSW industry will need to import trained labor from outside the state, and simultaneously invest in local workforce development programs to meet its long-term needs.

To ensure the success of California's FOSW industry, targeted investments in the supply chain, infrastructure and ports, and human capital and vocational training programs will be crucial. Examples of these investments include developing the metal/steel industry, constructing specialized port facilities near the Central Coast, investing in critical infrastructure such as the electrical grid, and prioritizing educational and occupational training programs to build and sustain a skilled FOSW labor force. Meeting California's floating offshore wind milestones will undoubtedly present challenges, but with coordinated efforts, investments in physical and human capital, and effective collaboration among stakeholders, these goals can be achieved.

Acknowledgment: This research was funded as part of the “High Road to Offshore Wind Energy” grant to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education by the California Workforce Development Board- High Road Training Partnership. The High Road to Offshore Wind Energy is part of the California Workforce Development Board’s High Road Training Partnership, which is funded through California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health, and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.

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