Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

Commentary and Opinion by Samuel Strait – February 9, 2024

After the conclusion of the most recent Harbor Commission meeting, one
would think that the Tri Agency was only resurrected to suit the wishes
of the Harbor.  Like a group of petulant six year olds from which their
favorite and only toy was removed from their grasp, the Harbor
Commission couldn’t allow the language to exist in the Tri Agency’s
bylaws that prevented the JPA from pursuing offshore wind power. By
moving thus it should become crystal clear that the Crescent City
Harbor’s sole reason for resurrecting the failed Tri Agency was to
pursue offshore wind power and to tap into the financial resources of
both the County and the City to do so.  Clearly the Harbor lacks the
financial resources to do so on its own.  Their contribution thus far is
a meager $10,000, not exactly a strong position from which to demand
anything be excluded from the bylaws.

While it really makes no difference whether or not the clause is in the
bylaws, it exposes all parties involved that the JPA is a hollow
organism that has no real intent to pursue “economic development” within
the County and will spend as much taxpayer money as necessary to follow
the offshore pipe dream.  Keep in mind that the three members of the Tri
Agency have already laid claim to $400,000 of local taxpayers funding
with no evidence that the JPA will pay the money back.

As to the idea that offshore wind power is viable without multi-trillions
of dollars of taxpayer subsidies, dream on.  While it is true that the
North Coast has wind, that isn’t really the whole story.  The insistence
that offshore wind power to be developed is a given, is far from
certain.  The same promises were made to local governments along the
Atlantic Coast years ago and very little has come to fruition.  Some of
the trials of offshore wind power were recently documented in an article
found in The Hill entitled “Biden’s offshore wind initiative is set to
join the Titanic”,  (2/1/2024).  While I will not belabor the points
made, in short the article pretty much buries the effort to actually
produce a functioning wind farm, despite the efforts by local
governments to massively subsidize the efforts.  What has emerged is
that without rate payers paying astronomical rates for the power
produced by the wind farms along with the aforementioned taxpayer
subsidies, neither of which is tenable, developers have begun scurrying
away from their leases.

Unfortunately, what has seemed to escape the attention of those
“experts” at the Harbor District is that floating offshore wind power,
the infrastructure yet to be developed, is already forecast to be twice
as expensive as that on the Eastern Coast of the United States.  Whether
or not anything comes of the assurances that Humboldt County’s already
massive half billion dollars of taxpayer money to be invested towards a
marine facility will actually evolve into a wind farm is yet to be
seen.  Keep in mind that the Atlantic leases were sold eight years ago
and aside from billions of dollars of taxpayer money nothing of a
substantive wind farm development has occurred.   In fact over half the
offshore leases have been allowed to lapse.  Not a particularly
encouraging picture for the possibility of Pacific Coast wind farms
where cost and path to development are exponentially much more difficult.

It is safe to say that the “seat at the table” will cost the local
taxpayers billions of dollars that do not exist within the County, yet
the local taxpayers are already on the hook for $400,000 and any further
adventures are likely to be far more expensive if the Harbor continues
to take the lead.  One can only hope that the Board of Supervisors hold
serve when the next round of virtue signalers comes to the Board wailing
about lost chances should offshore wind power not be in the JPA’s
purview. Similarly, hopes that those in charge in Humboldt will realize
the error of this pursuit before they find themselves seated at the
table where the chairs of the proposed developers are empty and billions
of taxpayer money has been expended for naught.

In the past when our local Board has been faced with a hand full of
weepers, the urge to maintain their sensible decision has not often
prevailed.  They should keep in mind at the fore front of their future
decision that they are bound to protect those that they serve which
includes local pocketbooks.  Anyone can opine that something will
happen, it only remains “How much will it cost?” and “will it really
happen?”

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