Offshore Wind Moves Forward on California Coast

Christine Heinrichs
News Feed
Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Progress continues on the controversial proposal to install a multi-billion dollar wind farm off the California coast. The five project areas will provide future power needs equivalent to the electricity produced by Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which was on schedule to be retired until this past legislative session. On November 21, PG&E received a federal grant of $1.1 billion to keep it operating for another five years. California’s deep waters, 3,000 feet, are three times as deep as any floating wind turbines have been launched. Forging into the unknown presents a number of concerns and promises that engineers, officials and citizens are weighing out. Leases to Outer Continental Land, needed to locate as many as 1,300 mega-sized wind turbines, will be auctioned off December 6. The process for building 2-5 GigaWatt offshore wind projects, producing more electricity than Diablo Canyon, gets underway with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s lease sale auction starting at 7 a.m. Pacific. They will warm up with a practice auction the day before. The auction could take two days to reach a conclusion and settle on five winning bidders. The lease sale includes three Morro Bay areas, (80,062 acres, 80,418 acres, 80,418 acres), and two Humboldt areas, (673,338 acres and 69,031 acres) totaling 373,268 acres of the Outer Continental Shelf, 20-30 miles offshore. Forty-three bidders have qualified and ponied up the $5 million bid deposit to participate.‍ Bidding credits‍ Bids will be considered not only on amount of money, but also on how they propose to use the bidding credits. Bidders can qualify for up to 20 percent credit by committing to investing in workforce training and supply chain development. They can also get up to five percent credit for a Lease Area Use Community Benefit Agreement and five percent for a General Community Benefit Agreement. CBAs are intended to mitigate potential impacts on- and offshore to communities, tribal, or other stakeholder groups and may assist fishing and related industries by supporting their resilience and ability to adapt to impacts that may arise from the development of the lease area. A Lease Area Use CBA would be between the lessee and a community or stakeholder group “whose use of the geographic space of the Lease Area, or whose use of resources harvested from that geographic space, is directly impacted by the Lessee’s potential offshore wind development. ”The General CBA would be with communities, tribes, or stakeholder groups that are expected to be affected by the potential impacts on the marine, coastal, and/or human environment from activities resulting from lease development that are not otherwise addressed by the Lease Area Use CBA. Eric Endersby, Morro Bay’s harbor director, sees how those credits can help the waterfront. “We are the closest port to the Morro Bay area, and we are a protected port, so it makes sense for the operations and maintenance boats to be coming and going out of Morro Bay,” he said in an interview. “There would be a lot of fuel sales, a lot of high-dollar, high-skilled jobs. The cable is coming into Morro Bay, through the grid system, so there’ll be that aspect to it. We see a revitalization of our working waterfront.” Other ocean users The leases require consideration of other users, from commercial fishing and Department of Defense national security to vessel speed requirements, use of low-energy geophysical survey equipment and coordinating with the Coastal Commission on plan submissions. Bidders know that BOEM has no authority to issue leases in national marine sanctuaries. The Morro Bay wind areas are adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the proposed Chumash Heritage NMS. Violet Sage Walker, chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, wrote in an op-ed in The Tribune, “The Northern Chumash Tribal Council advocates for marine conservation, equitable mitigation measures and fair community benefits. We believe offshore wind must coexist and cooperate with marine protections, and we see this as a unique opportunity for a collaborative effort, not a combative one.” Frankie Myers, vice chair of the Yurok Tribe in Northern California, said at the Floating Wind USA 2022 conference in San Francisco, that the ocean is the last place his people have to pray. “We can’t go any further west,” he said. “What will our descendants see? Another colonial resource or a collaborative partner?” Lines on a map are abstractions that are irrelevant to fisheries and tribal lands. Full details are in the Final Sale Notice National and state goals The West Coast Floating Offshore Wind projects, with a goal of 4.5 GW of power by 2030, are part of the Biden administration’s goal for Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, a commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025.The state of California has set a target of 2-5 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant’s two units combined produce 2.2 GW. Although intended to be retired in 2024 and 2025, in 2022 the legislature extended the plant’s licenses five years. ‍New port terminals needed Ten additional port terminals along California’s coast will be required to support the projects. None of California’s current ports is large enough or strong enough to support the wind turbine staging and fabrication. Terminals may be located in existing ports such as Long Beach and San Francisco, but construction of entirely new ports may be required. ‍Building the turbines Turbines are 1,100 feet tall on a base 425 feet wide. About 1,300 are projected to be installed in the West Coast projects. The size of the turbines presents problems yet unsolved, including moving the assembled turbines from the manufacturing facility into the water. It could take two weeks or longer to tow them out to the site where they will be tethered. The size and complications of constructing the turbines and setting them in place presents risks that are difficult to evaluate and insure. “What keeps me up at night is a project that is uninsurable,” one insurance executive said.‍ Deeper waters, bigger ships Hanson Wood, regional senior vice president for development in the West Region, EDF Renewables, said that although technical lessons have been learned from projects in Asia, there is no precedent for a wind project in California’s depths, around 3,000 feet. The chains tethering the turbines to sea floor anchors could put marine mammals at risk by catching drifting fishing gear and ensnaring them. The area is known as the Blue Serengeti for its migration routes of whales and seals. A ship large enough to transport the turbine parts, in compliance with U.S. Jones Law, is under construction in Texas. The 472-foot-long Charybdis is estimated to cost around $500 million. Humboldt has already received a grant for $10.5 million to renovate its facilities into the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal, which will be capable of handling large heavy cargo vessels, offshore wind floating platform development and integration and decommissioning, and other maritime activities. Developing the Central Coast wind area could create around 15,000 new jobs, according to a report on the economic impact by REACH Central Coast and Cal Poly. Environmental impacts Environmental impacts such as the loss of wind energy that drives the ocean upwelling which is the central feature of ocean ecology in the area remain to be evaluated in the future. The amount of money involved is staggering, hundreds of billions of dollars, so those credits – 20 percent for workforce and supply chain, and five percent each for offshore and onshore impacts – will represent large amounts of money to communities like Morro Bay and Humboldt. It’s not without significant risk, though. In mid-November, Shell, with partners China General Nuclear Power Group and France’s Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC) canceled a demonstration floating wind project offshore France. Shell’s statement cited ”technical, commercial and financial challenges” in the execution of the project as the main reasons for the decision to cancel the EUR 300 million, 28.5 MW Groix & Belle-Île pilot wind farm, Le Parisien reports.“ The economic conditions linked to the project have been significantly modified, calling into question, for all the partners of the consortium, the economic viability of the project,” Shell was quoted as saying in a statement. State regulators Representatives of California’s State Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission attended the San Francisco conference, supporting the projects. Governor Gavin Newsom is committed to floating offshore wind and the regulatory agencies are on board. All projects will be subjected to California's notoriously contentious permitting process, but the pressure is on to get turbines in the water by 2030. With the workforce development required – it will take as long as two years to train welders to the skill level needed – new port terminals to be constructed, and techniques for anchoring the turbines in such deep water refined, sussing out the risks of screwing it up is needed. Yurok Vice Chair Myers said, “The path to messing it up is just so wide. ”While the powers behind the idea and the money are moving forward, those communities that will be most affected are watching from the sidelines. “I’m afraid that it will be just such a bright, shiny object that it will distract us from the changes we need to make,” one conference participant said privately. The question of whether this provides the solution California needs for its future power requirements, or if expenses and technical problems overwhelm it remains to be seen. We will keep you posted.

Progress continues on the controversial proposal to install a multi-billion dollar wind farm off the California coast. The five project areas will provide future power needs equivalent to the electricity produced by Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which was on schedule to be retired until this past legislative session. On November 21, PG&E received a federal grant of $1.1 billion to keep it operating for another five years.

Progress continues on the controversial proposal to install a multi-billion dollar wind farm off the California coast. The five project areas will provide future power needs equivalent to the electricity produced  by Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which was on schedule to be retired until this past legislative session. On November 21, PG&E received a federal grant of $1.1 billion to keep it operating for another five years. 

California’s deep waters, 3,000 feet, are three times as deep as any floating wind turbines have been launched. Forging into the unknown presents a number of concerns and promises that engineers, officials and citizens are weighing out. Leases to Outer Continental Land, needed to locate as many as 1,300 mega-sized wind turbines, will be auctioned off December 6. 

The process for building 2-5 GigaWatt offshore wind projects, producing more electricity than Diablo Canyon, gets underway with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s lease sale auction starting at 7 a.m. Pacific. They will warm up with a practice auction the day before. The auction could take two days to reach a conclusion and settle on five winning bidders.

The lease sale includes three Morro Bay areas, (80,062 acres, 80,418 acres, 80,418 acres), and two Humboldt areas, (673,338 acres and 69,031 acres) totaling 373,268 acres of the Outer Continental Shelf, 20-30 miles offshore. Forty-three bidders have qualified and ponied up the $5 million bid deposit to participate.

Bidding credits

Bids will be considered not only on amount of money, but also on how they propose to use the bidding credits. Bidders can qualify for up to 20 percent credit by committing to investing in workforce training and supply chain development.

They can also get up to five percent credit for a Lease Area Use Community Benefit Agreement and five percent for a General Community Benefit Agreement. CBAs are intended to mitigate potential impacts on- and offshore to communities, tribal, or other stakeholder groups and may assist fishing and related industries by supporting their resilience and ability to adapt to impacts that may arise from the development of the lease area.

A Lease Area Use CBA would be between the lessee and a community or stakeholder group “whose use of the geographic space of the Lease Area, or whose use of resources harvested from that geographic space, is directly impacted by the Lessee’s potential offshore wind development.”

The General CBA would be with communities, tribes, or stakeholder groups that are expected to be affected by the potential impacts on the marine, coastal, and/or human environment from activities resulting from lease development that are not otherwise addressed by the Lease Area Use CBA.

Eric Endersby, Morro Bay’s harbor director, sees how those credits can help the waterfront. “We are the closest port to the Morro Bay area, and we are a protected port, so it makes sense for the operations and maintenance boats to be coming and going out of Morro Bay,” he said in an interview. “There would be a lot of fuel sales, a lot of high-dollar, high-skilled jobs. The cable is coming into Morro Bay, through the grid system, so there’ll be that aspect to it. We see a revitalization of our working waterfront.”

Other ocean users

The leases require consideration of other users, from commercial fishing and Department of Defense national security to vessel speed requirements, use of low-energy geophysical survey equipment and coordinating with the Coastal Commission on plan submissions. 

Bidders know that BOEM has no authority to issue leases in national marine sanctuaries. The Morro Bay wind areas are adjacent to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the proposed Chumash Heritage NMS.

Violet Sage Walker, chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, wrote in an op-ed in The Tribune, “The Northern Chumash Tribal Council advocates for marine conservation, equitable mitigation measures and fair community benefits. We believe offshore wind must coexist and cooperate with marine protections, and we see this as a unique opportunity for a collaborative effort, not a combative one.”

Frankie Myers, vice chair of the Yurok Tribe in Northern California, said at the Floating Wind USA 2022 conference in San Francisco, that the ocean is the last place his people have to pray. “We can’t go any further west,” he said. “What will our descendants see? Another colonial resource or a collaborative partner?”

Lines on a map are abstractions that are irrelevant to fisheries and tribal lands.

Full details are in the Final Sale Notice

National and state goals

The West Coast Floating Offshore Wind projects, with a goal of 4.5 GW of power by 2030, are part of the Biden administration’s goal for Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, a commitment to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and at least 25 gigawatts of onshore renewable energy by 2025.

The state of California has set a target of 2-5 GW of offshore wind power by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant’s two units combined produce 2.2 GW. Although intended to be retired in 2024 and 2025, in 2022 the legislature extended the plant’s licenses five years. 

New port terminals needed

Ten additional port terminals along California’s coast will be required to support the projects. None of California’s current ports is large enough or strong enough to support the wind turbine staging and fabrication. Terminals may be located in existing ports such as Long Beach and San Francisco, but construction of entirely new ports may be required. 

Building the turbines

Turbines are 1,100 feet tall on a base 425 feet wide. About 1,300 are projected to be installed in the West Coast projects.  The size of the turbines presents problems yet unsolved, including moving the assembled turbines from the manufacturing facility into the water. It could take two weeks or longer to tow them out to the site where they will be tethered. 

The size and complications of constructing the turbines and setting them in place presents risks that are difficult to evaluate and insure. “What keeps me up at night is a project that is uninsurable,” one insurance executive said.

Deeper waters, bigger ships

Hanson Wood, regional senior vice president for development in the West Region, EDF Renewables, said that although technical lessons have been learned from projects in Asia, there is no precedent for a wind project in California’s depths, around 3,000 feet.

The chains tethering the turbines to sea floor anchors could put marine mammals at risk by catching drifting fishing gear and ensnaring them. The area is known as the Blue Serengeti for its migration routes of whales and seals.

A ship large enough to transport the turbine parts, in compliance with U.S. Jones Law, is under construction in Texas. The 472-foot-long Charybdis is estimated to cost around $500 million.

Humboldt has already received a grant for $10.5 million to renovate its facilities into the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind Heavy Lift Marine Terminal, which will be capable of handling large heavy cargo vessels, offshore wind floating platform development and integration and decommissioning, and other maritime activities.

Developing the Central Coast wind area could create around 15,000 new jobs, according to a report on the economic impact by REACH Central Coast and Cal Poly. 

Environmental impacts

Environmental impacts such as the loss of wind energy that drives the ocean upwelling which is the central feature of ocean ecology in the area remain to be evaluated in the future. 

The amount of money involved is staggering, hundreds of billions of dollars, so those credits – 20 percent for workforce and supply chain, and five percent each for offshore and onshore impacts – will represent large amounts of money to communities like Morro Bay and Humboldt.

It’s not without significant risk, though. In mid-November, Shell, with partners China General Nuclear Power Group and France’s Caisse des dépôts et consignations (CDC) canceled a demonstration floating wind project offshore France. Shell’s statement cited ”technical, commercial and financial challenges” in the execution of the project as the main reasons for the decision to cancel the EUR 300 million, 28.5 MW Groix & Belle-Île pilot wind farm, Le Parisien reports.

“The economic conditions linked to the project have been significantly modified, calling into question, for all the partners of the consortium, the economic viability of the project,” Shell was quoted as saying in a statement.

State regulators 

Representatives of California’s State Lands Commission and the Coastal Commission attended the San Francisco conference, supporting the projects. Governor Gavin Newsom is committed to floating offshore wind and the regulatory agencies are on board.

All projects will be subjected to California's notoriously contentious permitting process, but the pressure is on to get turbines in the water by 2030. With the workforce development required – it will take as long as two years to train welders to the skill level needed – new port terminals to be constructed, and techniques for anchoring the turbines in such deep water refined, sussing out the risks of screwing it up is needed. 

Yurok Vice Chair Myers said, “The path to messing it up is just so wide.”

While the powers behind the idea and the money are moving forward, those communities that will be most affected are watching from the sidelines. 

“I’m afraid that it will be just such a bright, shiny object that it will distract us from the changes we need to make,” one conference participant said privately.

The question of whether this provides the solution California needs for its future power requirements, or if expenses and technical problems overwhelm it remains to be seen. We will keep you posted.

Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of
Christine Heinrichs, Moffat & Nichol, NREL, and Humboldt Bay Wind Port
Christine Heinrichs

Christine Heinrichs writes from her home on California’s Central Coast. She keeps a backyard flock of about a dozen hens. She follows coastal issues, writing a regular column on the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery for the San Luis Obispo Tribune. Her narrative on the Central Coast condor flock will appear in Ten Spurs 2021 edition.

Her book, How to Raise Chickens, was first published in 2007, just as the local food movement was starting to focus attention on the industrial food system. Backyard chickens became the mascot of local food. The third edition of How to Raise Chickens was published in January 2019. The Backyard Field Guide to Chickens was published in 2016. Look for them in Tractor Supply stores and online.

She has a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Oregon and belongs to several professional journalism and poultry organizations.

How to learn to love winter

Getty Images Winter doesn’t have to be the absolute worst time of year. Depending on where you live and your personal disposition, winter fills you with either delight (Skiing! Warm beverages! Cozy sweaters!) or dread (dry skin, early sunsets, painful wind chills). Every season comes with its unique trappings, but for regions that experience freezing temps, winter tends to draw the most contention. It’s true that cold has less-than-desirable effects on the body. Many people report feeling hungrier in the winter; long, dark nights contribute to increased tiredness as well as feelings of winter malaise, known as seasonal affective disorder; low humidity and the heat in homes contribute to dry, itchy skin. Despite all the havoc winter unleashes on the mind and body, there are ways to care for yourself to blunt the impact of cold and darkness. Regardless of the time of year, understanding how you react to icy temperatures and shorter days — physically and mentally — can help you prepare defenses and have a more pleasant and comfortable winter (even if the season is already half over). How winter affects the body and mind The body has both physical and behavioral reactions to frosty conditions, says Clare Eglin, a principal lecturer in human and applied physiology at the University of Portsmouth. When the external world gets cold, your warm skin loses heat to the environment, Eglin explains, and this is how you perceive the concept of being cold. Hands and face are the biggest contributors to sensing a chill: If the hands and face are exposed to wintry elements, you’ll feel colder, says Eglin, who studies how the body reacts to frigid temperatures. “As we start to lose heat to the environment, then our body reacts to try and prevent that heat loss and so the blood vessels in the skin narrow and that prevents the blood flow going there,” she says. “That reduces the skin temperature further, which is great because it stops us losing so much heat to the environment, but then our skin temperature feels colder and so we feel colder.” As a result, the brain shifts the blood flow from the extremities to the core and you start to shiver and your teeth clatter in an effort to get warm. The behavioral reaction to cold is to hunch over to conserve heat, Eglin says. Remaining tense, with shoulders shrugged, for an extended period can cause moderate pain and stiffness. Shivering and moving around to get warm requires energy, Eglin says, which you get from food. As the body breaks down food, the process releases heat, and you’ll actually feel warmer. This may explain increased hunger during the winter, Eglin says, to compensate for the energy required to warm you up. These effects may be negligible: Studies show cold environments only account for 100 to 200 calories burned. However, contextual influences may contribute to increased hunger in the winter. The holiday season, early sunset, and boredom could cause you to think about and surround yourself with more food. One small study found that participants increased their consumption of meat and dairy products in the winter. “There’s a lot of variability,” Eglin says. “Some people show a marked increase in the amount they eat, and other people don’t.” Lack of daylight is to blame for sluggishness and depression. In the morning, daylight is the body’s cue to wake up and get to work; once the sun sets and light dissipates, the body produces melatonin and gets sleepy. Belated sunrise and early sunset during the winter is a recipe for tiredness all season long. Lack of light causes all the body’s internal clocks (the mechanisms that regulate body temperature, hunger, and stress response) to fall out of sync, says Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventive medicine, psychology, and psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “If it’s dark in the morning, and you feel like sleeping in and you do sleep in, then … you will be eating your breakfast later and not at a time when your insulin is sensitive enough to metabolize those calories efficiently,” she says. “You just get a spiral of things that goes off track.” Being off-cycle contributes to seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that typically lasts during winter. SAD manifests in a depression beginning around late fall, Spring says, along with sleeping too much or too little; an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates, starches, and sweets; and weight gain. Because SAD is a genuine mental health disorder and considered a type of depression, more intensive treatments like therapy and antidepressants might be necessary. If you dread winter, try to change your mindset Despite all the biological and environmental hurdles winter throws our way, there are plenty of people who thrive during colder months. While she was organizing a research project on SAD in Norway, health psychologist Kari Leibowitz learned from a local collaborator how there weren’t any marked differences in mental health between winter and summer. In a country that is dark for most of the winter, Leibowitz was curious why these people flourished when so many others anguished during the season. Among her findings, which she chronicles in the forthcoming book How to Winter: Harnessing Mindset to Embrace All Seasons of Life, was a profound contrast in mindset toward winter among Norwegians. Largely, people in Nordic countries aren’t limited by cold and darkness; they continue to enjoy the outdoors and embrace coziness during the winter. (Of course, a year of paid parental leave and universal health care probably don’t hurt mental health, either.) By contrast, Americans, although hardly monolithic in experience, generally have a negative attitude about winter. “I think a lot of people, especially the people who aren’t in the coldest part of the US,” Leibowitz says, “tend to really struggle with the winter and focus a lot on the negatives and see it as a really limiting time of year ... when you can’t do the things that you enjoy doing.” Instead of viewing winter as a season of constraints, create opportunities that make it distinctive. If you enjoy beach trips or hiking in the summer, what are your winter alternatives? Lean into the coziness of the season and eat dinner by candlelight or experiment with warm recipes like soups and stews. Focus on the things you actually enjoy about the winter and activities you can only partake in when it’s cold and dark, like weekend ski trips and movie marathons. Something as small as reveling in the warmth of your home after a cold errand run can help improve mindset, Leibowitz says. “For a lot of people who really like the winter, they see it as a time to slow down, maybe have more intimate social gatherings, maybe read more, or make art or read poetry or practice music,” she says. Ritualizing certain aspects of winter entertainment — like a weekly TV night or daily cup of tea — makes an average part of life an event worth looking forward to. (Anticipating events in the future is also beneficial to mental health.) Get some daylight and fresh air, even when it’s cold outside In order to overcome the sluggish effects of minimal daylight in winter, light exposure is essential. Soaking in the daylight during a one-hour morning walk has been found to reduce the effects of SAD, according to research. Getting light in the morning also helps you fall asleep at night. Being in nature comes with a wealth of cognitive and emotional benefits, too. Layer up (more on that later) and take the dog for a walk or go for a quick hike. “If you are cooped up all winter long, if you’re not going on walks, if you’re not being active, if you’re not getting fresh air and whatever light you have access to in your part of the world,” Leibowitz says, “then it’s a recipe for feeling a little bit miserable during the winter.” Alternatives to natural light are lightboxes and sunrise alarm clocks. Designed to replicate the experience of soaking in natural light, these devices help treat SAD and are meant to be used for 20 to 30 minutes first thing in the morning. Similarly, sunrise alarm clocks play double duty: They serve morning light and also provide a wake-up call. Wear appropriate winter clothing Much of the disdain toward winter stems from a general dislike for being cold. “Every day I went to high school in my jeans and my sneakers and I put a coat on, but I wondered why I was shivering and miserable all winter,” says Leibowitz, whose New Jersey winters soured her view of the season. On a practical level, enjoying winter rests on your wardrobe. In Norway, where Leibowitz researches winter lifestyle, residents wear woolen leggings, undershirts, sweaters, and socks. Grocery stores are stocked with merino wool leggings and undershirts. By no means do you need to acquire these items if you don’t already have them (thrift stores and clothing swaps are good options for collecting warm-weather gear), but the sentiment remains: Layering is the key to staying warm in winter. Leibowitz’s Arctic-inspired winter wardrobe includes leggings under jeans and long-sleeved undergarments beneath a sweater. Waterproof jackets and boots keep snow and rain from soaking the clothes underneath. Your layering is contingent on your activity; you’ll want to wear more clothing for a casual walk outside or a lazy day on the couch than you will for a rigorous run or housework. As far as fabrics go, wool is ideal because it wicks moisture away from the body. Cotton, on the other hand, holds on to moisture, so if you sweat at all during a winter hike or bike ride, that perspiration won’t dry and will make you chillier. Soft and loose fabrics are comforting against dry, itchy skin. Remember to keep your hands and feet warm if you’re going outside, Eglin says, since blood flows away from the extremities when it’s cold. Good socks and gloves are essential. Navigating around ice and snow doesn’t have to be treacherous Ice and snowfall can prove especially difficult for folks with mobility issues. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, snow and ice must be cleared from entrances to public buildings. Most states have specific snow removal laws for residential properties, so double-check whether you’re responsible for shoveling the sidewalk outside of your house and clarify with your landlord on who’s responsible for clearing snow and ice at your building. Some towns and cities offer snow clearing exemptions for people with disabilities or seniors. To help fill in the gaps where local municipalities fall short with snow removal policies, be a good community member and make sure you’re keeping the sidewalks around your home clear of snow and ice, and, if you can, offer to shovel or offer rides to neighbors in need. Look in on who may need help getting groceries or prescriptions during a winter storm. If you’re unable to clear snow around your home, check to see if a local volunteer organization offers snow removal services. Spring recommends using community Facebook groups or apps like Nextdoor to volunteer to help out a neighbor or to ask for assistance. Winter doesn’t need to be a time of inconvenience. A shift in mindset and a practical approach to the season can empower you (and those around you) to feel comfy and cozy even through frigid conditions. Even Better is here to offer deeply sourced, actionable advice for helping you live a better life. Do you have a question on money and work; friends, family, and community; or personal growth and health? Send us your question by filling out this form. We might turn it into a story.

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