July 5, 2023
New report on lessons learned in High Road Training Partnership
External Relations Director, CADEMO
Report website: https://offshorewindhrtp.slocoe.org
California’s nascent offshore wind industry will be able to fill its workforce training needs largely through negotiated labor contracts with unions, providing access to the state’s well-honed apprenticeship system. Workforce gaps, however, will exist in the offshore marine services as a result of legal and regulatory hurdles that could prevent availability of needed vessels. These are among the key findings in a new, state-funded report, “Trial Run for California’s Offshore Wind Workforce: Lessons learned from the CADEMO High Road Training Partnership.” The report, issued by an alliance of industry, labor and academia, is based on empirical, hands-on planning for California’s first offshore wind project: CADEMO in northern Santa Barbara County.
The report was produced by the Offshore Wind High Road Training Partnership (HRTP), funded by the California Workforce Development Board. The HRTP members include: Floventis Energy (CADEMO’s owner and developer), State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1245; San Luis Obispo County Office of Education; SLO Partners; and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
CADEMO is a demonstration project comprising four full-size, 15-MW floating turbines in state waters off the coast of Vandenberg Space Force Base. It is expected to be operational in late 2027, years before the larger-scale projects planned for federal waters.
Key findings of the report:
- Labor relations and workforce: California’s offshore wind developers should start negotiating with labor unions sooner than later. Negotiating a master Project Labor Agreement (PLA) for CADEMO took two years, and the five winners of the federal government’s 2022 offshore wind auction will find the process to be complex. Achieving a PLA not only cements a strong partnership with labor
- unions for the project’s regulatory permitting process, it ensures access to the state’s apprenticeship system to resolve workforce training needs.
- Supply chain: For CADEMO, as well as the big projects in federal waters, the most difficult needs for supply chain and workforce are in the marine sector: the launching of floating platforms from wharf into water, the final turbine integration, and the anchor and cable laying. These gaps are caused largely by the Jones Act (requiring U.S.-flagged vessels) and California’s newly strengthened offshore emissions standards. These urgently need the attention of state and federal government agencies in cooperation with the offshore wind industry.
- Ports: For CADEMO and initial projects in federal waters, California will be unable to manufacture the turbine components – towers, nacelles, and blades – and these must be imported from out of state. However, the construction and assembly of floating offshore platforms could and should take place in California. This will require the state and federal governments to focus quickly on upgrading ports facilities, with a primary emphasis on construction only, leaving manufacturing as a second priority.
- Central Coast: Despite initial public discussions in the Central Coast region about a possible new mega-port facility in the area where offshore wind projects could create thousands of local jobs, we found such a scenario to be highly unlikely. The only port locations where construction, assembly, and final integration of the floating platforms might be feasible are located elsewhere in the state. As a result, offshore wind job creation in the Central Coast region will be relatively modest.
- Jobs: Research by the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business for the Offshore Wind HRTP, projected that CADEMO will create a total of 697 jobs statewide during the construction phase, and 16 annual jobs in the Central Coast region during the long-term operations phase. The Cal Poly analysis also projected that each one of the three, gigawatt-scale projects in the federal Morro Bay offshore wind zone will create 10,025 construction jobs statewide and 494 long-term operations jobs locally.
Andrew Meredith, President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California: “The proof of the high road concept is that we now have the first Project Labor Agreement in California’s offshore wind industry. This hard-won contract will be a model for all wind farms up and down the California coast in the years and decades to come. It guarantees good, middle-class jobs, and it harnesses the state’s apprenticeship system to ensure availability of a well-trained, diverse workforce for every aspect of offshore wind construction.”
Mikael Jakobsson, Director, Floventis Energy, the owner and developer of CADEMO: “The findings of this report are an example of why CADEMO is a crucial steppingstone for the successful evolution of California’s offshore wind industry. Our four, full-size turbines will develop early knowhow and provide lessons learned for workforce training, supply chain, environmental mitigation, and stakeholder relations that will be needed to de-risk and smooth the road for the much larger projects that will come in later years.”
Cyrus Ramezani, Professor, Orfalea College of Business, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo: “Our analysis suggests that the success of California’s offshore wind industry hinges upon targeted investments in key elements of the supply chain, infrastructure and ports, and human capital and vocational training programs. Meeting California’s floating offshore wind milestones will be challenging, but it can be done with coordinated efforts, investments in both physical and human capital
Setting a new path for the floating offshore wind industry, CADEMO has reached agreement with California’s labor unions to build and operate the state’s first offshore wind project with a union workforce.
Under the agreement, announced earlier this month, the CADEMO project off California’s Central Coast will partner with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California. The agreement covers all of CADEMO’s contractors and subcontractors that will perform construction, assembly, installation, and maintenance on the four-turbine, 60 MW project in state waters off Vandenberg Space Force Base in Santa Barbara County. CADEMO is currently in the state’s environmental review process and is expected to start operations in 2027. This means CADEMO will be completed years before any of the projects resulting from the Dec. 6 federal auction of ocean areas for floating wind projects offshore California.
Mikael Jakobsson, Director at CADEMO stated:
“We are proud to partner with California’s labor unions to lead the way for the floating offshore wind industry on the U.S. West Coast. CADEMO is a pathfinder project that sets a high standard for workforce and economic benefits to Californians, and for all floating offshore wind projects in the years to come.”
In its Final Sale Notice for the December auction, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management required lease winners to make every reasonable effort to sign a PLA for construction of their projects. By coming years in advance of these lease projects, CADEMO’s PLA helps the industry de-risk and clarify its path forward for labor relations for all future floating wind projects offshore California.
Andrew Meredith, President of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, said:
“We expect this agreement to now become the standard bearer for every Project Labor Agreement for offshore wind in the state of California. That’s why we worked so hard to get this first agreement done. … We think it’s going to drive a whole new generation of opportunities for workers.”
Meredith emphasized that the PLA will benefit all construction crafts, including the Carpenters, plus related, non-construction unions such as the International Longshore Workers Union:
“This is an opportunity for us collectively to come together again as a construction trades movement and prove that we can build things that nobody thinks is possible.”
CADEMO already has pioneered best practices for the state’s offshore wind sector. Together with labor unions, other Central Coast organizations, and key industry partners like DEME, SBM Offshore and Saitec, it has received a three-year grant from the state’s Workforce Development Board to create a High Road Training Partnership for the industry statewide. CADEMO’s turbines also will host environmental monitoring and mitigation mechanisms to collect data and confirm best practices to protect birds, fish, and marine mammals in offshore wind operations.
By being first in the water and demonstrating innovative practices in labor, the environment, and supply chain development, CADEMO will help generate the knowledge and public acceptance that California needs to successfully grow the sector, as Jakobsson explained:
“This pilot project is a crucial step – obviously for our company but more so for the industry as a whole – before California takes the next step of putting hundreds of turbines farther offshore. The climate crisis demands that California develop offshore wind as a component of its strategy of getting to 100 percent clean energy. But this must be done in a way that is home-grown and produces local benefits, rather than just consisting of turnkey imports from abroad.”
The State Building and Construction Trades Council of California has 157 affiliated unions from 14 different construction craft unions, with 500,000 members statewide. CADEMO is owned by Floventis Energy, a joint venture of SBM Offshore, a major global developer of offshore energy infrastructure, headquartered in the Netherlands, and Cierco, a developer of floating offshore wind, headquartered in Palm Springs, California. Floventis Energy also is developing the 2 x 100 MW Llyr floating wind projects off the coast of Wales, UK.