On January 11, 2024, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation & Conservation District committed to developing a green terminal strategy for the new offshore wind terminal. This is a big win for Humboldt Bay and the climate!
Offshore wind is a massive enterprise. When fully built, floating offshore wind turbines will be more than 1,000 feet tall and sit on platforms the size of American football fields. Ports up and down the coast will participate in manufacturing and transporting these enormous machines, but the Port of Humboldt Bay will play a particularly important role.
What technical experts refer to as “staging and integration,” I prefer to call “putting the pieces together”. While the blades for wind turbines might be manufactured in Long Beach and the nacelles in Richmond, those components will need to be brought to the same place and fitted together before the turbines can become operational. This is the vision that the state and federal governments have for the Port of Humboldt Bay.
Accomplishing this will require the construction of a new heavy lift terminal capable of handling and assembling the wind turbines’ components. Currently, the Harbor District is proposing to use Marine Terminal 1, located on the Samoa Peninsula, for the terminal, and has begun the lengthy process of environmental review. The Harbor District’s goal is to have phase one of the terminal ready in 2029.
One of the most significant potential environmental impacts of a new heavy lift terminal comes from the same enemy that offshore wind energy is meant to help fight — fossil fuels. Traditional port operations use a lot of diesel to power the cranes, trucks, and other machines necessary to operate a port. Burning diesel emits greenhouse gases warms the planet, and also emits harmful air pollutants that can harm workers and fenceline communities. For years, communities near other ports in California have been fighting for cleaner, green ports that will protect their health. And in response to their advocacy, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles recently committed to achieving zero emissions by 2030.
In Humboldt, we have an opportunity to skip the polluting phase and construct our new heavy lift terminal as a green terminal from day one. That means using electricity instead of fossil fuels, building on-site solar panels and batteries for power storage, and allowing tug boats to plug in and run on electricity while docked. Together, these actions will create a terminal that is healthier, cleaner, quieter, safer, and better for Humboldt Bay and the planet.
EPIC and our partners have been advocating for a green terminal for the past year and are proud to see our advocacy take effect with the passage of this resolution. We will be watching the process to develop Humboldt offshore wind energy unfold at every step, and will ensure that the Harbor District keeps its promise of developing the new heavy lift terminal as a green terminal.