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Michael Kellogg stands on the end of a rail car at the Timber Heritage Association in Samoa on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. The proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal would border the association's property. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Why the wind carries promise of a new economic boom for Humboldt County

SAMOA — A rising wind banged Ed Weatherbee’s wooden gate over and over as an approaching storm darkened the sky the morning of Oct. 21.

Like the colorful but worn homes of Samoa, Weatherbee has weathered more than just storms.

This narrow strip of land, which protects Humboldt and Arcata bays from the north Pacific Ocean, has also been buffeted by the winds of commerce and politics that once drove Humboldt County’s boom and bust timber industry.

“I hate the wind,” Weatherbee said. “I’ve spent all my life in it.”

Yet it is the wind, which on this day was busy knocking the tops off heaving waves visible just uphill from Weatherbee’s home, that carries the promise of a new boom for Humboldt County.

Out on the open ocean, the wind is strong and steady, with average speeds reaching more than 20 mph.

As California’s leaders and President Joe Biden’s administration push for a dramatic increase in renewable energy to slow the ravages of global warming, eyes have turned to this particular windswept stretch of sea.

“The resource is astounding,” said Arne Jacobson, director of Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center. “It’s one of the best in the world.”

This summer, the federal government designated a 206-square mile stretch of open water as the Humboldt Wind Energy Area.

On Oct. 13, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the government’s intent to begin leasing the area, which begins 21 miles out from Humboldt Bay, to energy companies in the fall of 2022.

As soon as 2026, Humboldt Bay could see towering wind turbines perched atop floating platforms being towed seaward out of the bay.

A view of Eureka from Tuluwat Island across Humboldt Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
A view of Eureka from Tuluwat Island across Humboldt Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

And building those turbines, local leaders hope, will transform the shoreline from Samoa to Eureka, the county seat just across the bay, which is home to 27,000 people.

The prospect is driving optimism in a region that has been largely isolated behind a “redwood curtain” from the rest of California’s powerhouse economy, especially as the timber industry has declined.

But not everyone is gung-ho for offshore wind. For the rough coast’s hardened fishermen, the idea carries as much skepticism and fear as it does hope.

At best, they say, the impact of offshore wind energy on their industry can be mitigated with regulations, cooperation and financial compensation. At worst, they worry, large scale offshore development could push an already difficult way of life toward decline through competition for space both on the open ocean and in port.

“The impacts to fishermen are sort of like the black sheep of the wind project,” Humboldt Bay fisherman Harrison Ibach said.

Local industry isn’t the only hurdle. California’s offshore wind energy dreams must also overcome significant and varied costs, as well as political and engineering challenges.

The federal government must complete environmental studies and a bidding process. There are massive engineering challenges for electrical transmission to overcome.

And hundreds of billions of dollars for revamping the electrical grid and building more renewable energy are tied up in the general political turbulence of Washington, D.C.

Closer to home, local politics, tribal governments, neighbors to planned infrastructure, state environmental laws and big port investments all must be addressed. There’s a long way to go, but suddenly Humboldt Bay, with a deepwater port and no bridge to block the passage of turbines that are taller than the Golden Gate Bridge, once again has what the world seems to be looking for.

Even those who’d rather see California get its clean energy elsewhere agree that the winds of change blowing toward the Humboldt Bay appear as potent as the winds offshore.

“This train is leaving the station, and it’s got fuel.” Ibach said.

Why The Press Democrat went to Humboldt County

On Oct. 13, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the government’s intent to begin leasing a 206-square mile piece of the open ocean, 21 miles out from Humboldt Bay, to wind energy companies in the fall of 2022.

Earlier this summer, Press Democrat reporter Andrew Graham reported on a mysterious proposal to ship coal by rail through Northern California and export it from Humboldt Bay. At the time harbor officials viewed the coal train as a distraction from efforts to become an offshore wind energy hub, which would bring an influx of jobs and money to a region that has struggled since the timber industry’s decline.

On Oct. 19, Graham and Staff Photographer Christopher Chung headed up behind the Redwood Curtain to take the area’s temperature about a big pending change. The Press Democrat spent three days touring the bay and speaking with fishermen, union workers, officials and others.

A company town

The first actual trains came to Samoa in 1896, according to Michael Kellog, a retired history teacher and board member with local nonprofit called the Timber Heritage Association.

Pulled by locomotives specially built to hug the curves of Northern California’s steep river canyons, they carried downed redwood trees to the Vance Lumber Co. sawmill.

Vance built Samoa over the following two decades, putting up dozens of houses, a school, a bank and a civic center. Lumber flowed out of the bay by ship to Los Angeles, San Francisco and as far as Australia and Hawaii.

The town passed from one company to another. Vance sold to Hammond in 1900, which sold to Georgia-Pacific, which sold to Louisiana-Pacific, which sold to Simpson Timber.

An old photo shows the Hammond Lumber Co. Mill and Shops in Samoa in 1948. The proposed offshore wind port would use this area to house and assemble offshore wind turbines. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
An old photo shows the Hammond Lumber Co. Mill and Shops in Samoa in 1948. The proposed offshore wind port would use this area to house and assemble offshore wind turbines. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Weatherbee, 70, lived his whole life in Samoa. He worked in a power plant attached to a sawmill, feeding sawdust, bark and scrap wood into boilers to generate electricity. The sawmill shuttered in the 1990s, he said. Weatherbee moved to the pulp mill, but that closed in 2010.

Now retired, Weatherbee finished working at a car dealership in Eureka.

The mill site became an environmental cleanup site, polluted by millions of gallons of toxic chemicals used in the pulping process. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the harbor district have spent around $20 million cleaning it up.

Humboldt Bay’s harbor quieted with the timber industry’s decline. Marine cargo entering and leaving the bay dropped by more than 60% from 1990 to 2018, according to a county report.

Today, homebuilding company Danco owns Samoa’s houses. Weatherbee has watched them remodel and sell off the yellow, pink and blue homes.

Hammond Lumber Co. homes that are still inhabited by residents of Samoa on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Hammond Lumber Co. homes that are still inhabited by residents of Samoa on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

He remembers a tight-knit community with shared purpose, watermelon feeds and Fourth of July parades. “This was a good town to grow up in back in the day,” he said.

When a Press Democrat reporter visited, Weatherbee was clearing out rooms, dumping wheelbarrow loads of old magazines and papers into Danco’s recycling bins as the storm rolled in. He is leaving soon to live with his girlfriend in the small inland town of Blue Lake, along the Mad River.

“Too much has changed,” he said.

If the North Coast’s many offshore wind energy boosters get their way, change for Samoa has only just begun.

Homes built by the Hammond Lumber Co. sit uninhabited in Samoa on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Homes built by the Hammond Lumber Co. sit uninhabited in Samoa on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

According to the Timber Heritage Association, the 270 acres first purchased by the Vance Lumber Co. includes a mile of waterfront along the bay side. In 2014, the Humboldt Bay Harbor District acquired the pulp mill site and waterfront.

Now, the district’s elected governing board hopes to convert that shoreline into a modern marine terminal centered on the construction of towering, floating wind turbines and sending them to sea.

In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a state budget that included $11 million to the harbor district to advance that plan.

The same month, the district applied for a $56 million federal grant for the port project. In October, the district began environmental studies to permit its 168-acre proposal.

No bridge is bay’s boon

Energy experts measure power sources by their “capacity factor.” For wind energy, the measurement is reached by calculating how often a farm can generate its full electricity output potential.

Simply put, it means how often the turbines will be turning enough to reach maximum output. The best land-based wind farms have capacity factors of around 30% to 40%, said Jacobson, the Humboldt State professor.

Arne Jacobson is the director of the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University in Arcata. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Arne Jacobson is the director of the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University in Arcata. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Offshore wind energy is more effective, with such facilities averaging 40% to 50%, according to a 2019 report from the International Energy Agency.

The Humboldt Wind Energy Area’s capacity factor is estimated as high as 52% in places, Jacobson said.

The wind’s strength alone isn’t enough to make Humboldt Bay into the clean energy behemoth local leaders hope for. But, they have an ace in the hole: A deep water harbor with no bridge across it.

The 12-megawatt offshore wind turbines that would most likely be developed for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area would be more than 800 feet tall, 52 feet taller than the height of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Humboldt Bay is California’s only harbor north of Ventura with both deep water and no impediment from a bridge.

“The combination of the wind resource, the port, and the fact that there’s some degree of other onshore infrastructure that’s useful here makes us a really compelling location,” Jacobson said.

Both energy companies and politicians have taken note of Humboldt Bay’s assets.

The site of the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal, and Nordic Aquafarms, left, along Humboldt Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
The site of the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal, and Nordic Aquafarms, left, along Humboldt Bay on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

In August, Haaland visited Eureka and toured the bay and port, accompanied by California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas and Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.

Local officials described Huffman as a steadfast advocate for the project.

“We’re going to get it right in Humboldt,” Huffman said during a town hall in October with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York.

To those living there, getting it right means new jobs behind the Redwood Curtain. Federal officials say that nationwide the wind farms could create 80,000 jobs over the course of construction and upkeep.

Haaland’s Interior Department aims to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy in U.S. waters by 2030. That’s enough to power 10 million homes, according to the federal government.

That is also roughly 1,000 times the energy currently generated by the nation’s largest offshore wind farm today, a five-turbine Block Island operation off the coast of New England.

A breakdown of the numbers proposed for Northern California’s coast shows the scale. The Humboldt wind area is planned for 1.6 gigawatts of power initially — which would meet roughly 3% to 4% of the California’s current electricity needs, according to Jacobson. That would require about 133 of those 800-foot-tall, 12-megawatt wind turbines to produce.

But that’s just the first stage under the Biden administration proposal.

The push for offshore wind in Northern California, by the numbers

The federal government plans to hold a lease sale for an initial 1.6 gigawatts of offshore wind energy off the coast of Northern California. What does that mean and what would it take to build?

It’s enough electricity to power roughly 530,000 homes, according to a federal estimate.

It’s enough to meet the demand of 3% to 4% of California’s electrical needs, according to Humboldt State University researchers.

To produce it would require 133 floating wind turbines that produce 12 megawatts each.

Each turbine is around 800 feet tall. That’s too tall to fit under the Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, it’s taller than the height of the bridge itself.

The federal government is studying another 12.8 gigawatts worth of offshore wind electricity production off the Northern California coast.

That’s 1,000 more 12 megawatt turbines. (Turbines are likely to grow in size and capability.)

Rough estimates are that building all those turbines, if manufacturing occurs along the shore of Humboldt Bay as local officials hope, could generate more than 4,200 jobs in Humboldt County.

Two more wind energy areas are under consideration for Northern California in the future. One, called Del Norte off the California-Oregon border, would produce 6.6 gigawatts of power.

The other is proposed to run south of Cape Mendocino and generate 6.2 gigawatts. At that scale, those two projects would need more than 1,000 12-megawatt turbines, though turbine capacity (and size) is expected to grow with time.

The proposed size dwarfs the Block Island operation off Rhode Island. Those windmills are sunk into the sea floor on steel foundations. They are 600 feet tall and produce 6 megawatts of power each. But the Humboldt Bay Wind Energy Area’s turbines would float on platforms, similar to those used in some deep water off-shore oil drilling, moored to a seafloor in water 2,600 deep in places.

Manufacturing and floating the required number of turbines at sea could create years of industry for Humboldt Bay.

Larry Oetker, the director of the Humboldt Bay Harbor District and a key architect of the wind port proposal, has a chart suggesting dozens of turbines could leave the bay each year from 2026 to 2040 before the three offshore wind farms were complete.

Oetker said a number of companies have expressed an interest in the Humboldt port. He declined to name them, but said among them were “100-year-old companies” with backgrounds in oil and gas.

Oil giants Shell and BP have expressed an interest in wind projects proposed off Morrow Bay in San Luis Obispo County, where two areas of ocean are under consideration for as many as 7.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy.

Such fossil fuel giants have the expertise and capital needed for offshore wind projects, Jacobson and others said, after decades of drilling into the seafloor for oil and natural gas. That prospect doesn’t thrill environmentalists, who previously fended off such companies during attempts to drill for oil off Northern California.

Larry Oetker, executive director of Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, is an avid supporter of the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Larry Oetker, executive director of Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District, is an avid supporter of the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

“We’re looking at suspicious players and should we trust them with the Humboldt Coast? Can we trust them?” said Richard Charter, a longtime coastal activist near Bodega Bay with the Ocean Foundation.

Other wind-energy companies without such baggage are also in the mix, according to Tom Wheeler with the Environmental Protection Information Center, a Humboldt County-based group that supports the project.

For those trying to do wind energy “right,” the wind port is critical because of the jobs involved. If Oetker’s harbor district gets the $56 million federal grant, it will still need private companies to invest as much as $70 million for the proposed construction. That would include a tower manufacturing building, a turbine blade facility and a specially designed heavy-lift wharf.

“If they do the gold rush, the manufacturing will happen (elsewhere) and California won’t see the jobs. If it’s a slow integration, then California and the West Coast will see the manufacturing and the engineering jobs.”

With proper investment from government and industry, offshore wind can be a long-term boon for the region and state, Oetker said. But he worries it could also wind up a new California gold rush — where enormous wealth is generated but doesn’t stay or last in Humboldt County.

Instead of investing in the complete wind port, companies could find it cheaper to build parts elsewhere and only assemble them along the bay.

“If they do the gold rush, the manufacturing will happen (elsewhere) and California won’t see the jobs,” Oetker said. “If it’s a slow integration, then California and the West Coast will see the manufacturing and the engineering jobs.”

Operating Engineers Local 3 union members Aaron Robinson, left, Harry Herkert, with girlfriend Kristen Romani, and Rachel Aguiar eat at Shamus T-Bones after work in Eureka on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Union members are excited at the prospect of the local jobs that the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal would bring to the area. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Operating Engineers Local 3 union members Aaron Robinson, left, Harry Herkert, with girlfriend Kristen Romani, and Rachel Aguiar eat at Shamus T-Bones after work in Eureka on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Union members are excited at the prospect of the local jobs that the Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal would bring to the area. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

In simple estimates, Oetker believes building the port would bring 1,000 union jobs to town. Manufacturing turbines and platforms there could directly create around 760 jobs, according to an economic analysis done by the Harbor District. The project could create more than 4,200 jobs in the county as the wind port generated supporting jobs around the bay.

But just assembling turbines with parts built elsewhere would create far fewer direct jobs, Oetker said, perhaps 250 to 350.

A network of environmentalists like Wheeler, policymakers like Huffman, labor leaders and energy experts like Jacobson are working to shape what legacy offshore wind energy will bring to Northern California.

But offshore wind’s political and commercial momentum carries both opportunity and challenge.

“We’re trying to figure out ways to maintain local control but we may lose some,” Wheeler said. “My fear is that we have something that comes forward and it drives my community apart here in Humboldt County.”

Fisherman Ken Bates is concerned about the effects the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal will have on Humboldt Bay. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Fisherman Ken Bates is concerned about the effects the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal will have on Humboldt Bay. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Black sheep

After a night of gusting winds, the morning of Oct. 20 was strikingly calm. Only the lazy roll of harbor seals broke the glassy surface of the bay, one of the state’s largest fishing ports.

Ken Bates and the Humboldt fishing fleet, though, are less at ease these days.

There was, for example, the ship in port to assist with the laying of the world’s longest underwater fiber optic cable. When complete the cable will run from Samoa to Singapore across the sea floor, a distance of 10,000 miles, and dramatically improve Humboldt County’s internet connectivity.

Oetker says it could make the area a “data hub.”

Fishermen generally do not like the cable, which could snag lines to hunt rock fish, sable fish and other deep dwelling species. It’s one more thing to contend with, just like the ship taking up space in the harbor.

“If wind power shows up there’ll be 20 of them,” Bates said as he motored past.

Bates, 72, and Linda Hildebrand, 66, his wife and business partner, fish from their 32-foot boat, the Ironic, on tours as long as four months, traveling as far as Alaska chasing fish.

“Standing on the beach and looking out to sea, the ocean seems limitless,” Bates wrote in a recent column for the magazine Fishermen’s News. “It is not.”

Fishermen have to compete for space with marine wildlife sanctuaries, fishing closures and a wide range of other restrictions. Now they’ll have to compete with the wind energy industry too, which Bates contends is angling for productive fishing grounds.

Offshore developers will want to run transmission lines underwater at least to the shores of Humboldt Bay, if not farther. Some visions for the Humboldt Wind Energy Area include a transmission cable running south to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge and power the Bay Area.

Fishermen have many concerns about the project. There’s traffic at the bay’s mouth, which is only safe for entering and exiting during a flood tide, according to Bates. There’s increased pressure on space along the waterline that could drive up costs for fishermen, who struggle with thin margins as it is — an impact Jacobson referred to as “the gentrification of the harbor.”

There’s the uncertain impacts of development on fisheries themselves. There are worries about lost wind energy equipment drifting or blowing into the fishing fleet’s gear and the fear of a turbine tipping over or a platform breaking loose and plowing into valuable Dungeness crab fishing grounds.

Veterans of the mean North Pacific Ocean, fishermen argue that the platform technology is unproven.

“Fishermen have a hard time thinking of these turbines out in the water,” Hildebrand said. “We think the worst place for a piece of equipment is out there.”

Jacobson and other supporters of the offshore wind proposals say a major disaster is unlikely. “I have a fair amount of confidence they’ll be able to engineer what needs to be done there,” Jacobson said.

A wrecked wind turbine wouldn’t leak large amounts of toxic chemicals like an oil spill, Jacobson said. “It would not be good if they tipped over but it’s not the same as the kinds of environmental disasters we’re (used to),” he said.

Jacobson also added an argument common from environmentalists and scientists when they discuss the potential downsides to offshore wind energy, including many unknown impacts to marine and bird life.

“But there is an environmental disaster we’re facing, which is climate change,” he said.

Fishermen too are concerned about climate change. In his column for Fishermen’s News, Bates wrote about impacts ranging from kelp die-offs that halt abalone and sea urchin fishing to a warm water “blob” in the Pacific that impacted salmon, Albacore tuna and other species.

Harrison Ibach of Oceana Hook & Line Seafood weighs lingcod and rockfish at his dock on Woodley Island in Eureka on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Harrison Ibach of Oceana Hook & Line Seafood weighs lingcod and rockfish at his dock on Woodley Island in Eureka on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

Ibach, who described the fleet as popular offshore wind energy’s “black sheep,” is the president of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association. At 37, he is a younger boat owner and operator, trying to build a business against the headwinds of thin margins and steep initial investments in boats and tackle.

“First and foremost, no fisherman is against renewable energy,” Ibach said, taking a break from selling stout pink rockfish off his docked boat.

“We care about our oceans, we care about our climate, and we care about this planet,” he said.

“No one wants to talk about the fishing industry when they talk about wind.”

When Haaland, secretary of the Interior Department, came to town, Ibach accompanied her on a seaborne tour of the bay, he said. But despite the discussion of local control and collaboration, he worries fishermen are getting shut out because they don’t fit the positive narrative.

“No one wants to talk about the fishing industry when they talk about wind,” he said, but, “we can’t afford to lose any ground.”

Fishermen are organizing, Bates said.

“This is just the very beginning of a group of people … looking not to stop it but to protect themselves from it,” he said. “We don’t want to wake up under the bus.”

A 21st-century alliance

Onshore at the offices of the local chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers, there’s a different attitude toward the project. Formed in 1939, the local chapter once thrived as timber led building and industrial labor projects around the bay. But membership has shrunk as good paying opportunities in the area dwindled.

“We’ve got enough damn minimum wage jobs,” said Rachel Aguiar, an apprentice with the union that represents heavy machinery operators and other skilled laborers. She and her colleagues are ready to build the wind port, now.

Aguiar, 46, joined the union two years ago. Before that, she raised two sons working for less than $16 an hour in restaurants and hotels. Now, she makes $30 an hour or more, while also gaining a free technical education.

“That’s a lifestyle change,” she said. But to earn it, she has had to travel far afield. She’s worked on cleanups from California’s massive wildfires and other projects flung across the state to earn union wages.

For decades, traveling for a good paycheck has been the norm for operating engineers in Humboldt County. It’s a lifestyle that wears on families and workers as they spend weeks and months away from home.

“We need to bring sustainable industries back to Humboldt Bay,” Harry Herkert, 55, said.

Without it, he and his colleagues fear the county will slowly empty out, as rural areas have depopulated around the nation.

“My kids, they’re not going to work here,” Herkert said. “They’re not going to set roots here.”

Operating Engineers District 40 representative Jeff Hunerlach enjoys dinner with union members in Eureka on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Hunerlach is hopeful the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal will bring local union jobs to the area. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
Operating Engineers District 40 representative Jeff Hunerlach enjoys dinner with union members in Eureka on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Hunerlach is hopeful the proposed Humboldt Bay Offshore Wind and Heavy Lift Marine Terminal will bring local union jobs to the area. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)

In the wake of timber’s decline, the union members remember bitter fights over various industrial projects that could have given them work but were stopped, often by environmental or neighbor concerns. This time, they say, they find themselves aligned with groups whose priorities have often clashed with organized labor’s.

“It’s a little odd to have the environmentalists on your side,” Herkert said.

Jeff Hunerlach, the chapter’s representative, has been working with Huffman, Wheeler and others in Humboldt County, Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to advance the project. He’s confident wind energy will come and will last a long time in Humboldt County.

“We’re sitting on a gold mine,” he said.

But in a land of booms and busts and economic neglect, some remain wary of the future, regardless of the strength of the wind behind it.

“There’s been a lot of companies and projects that have almost happened here,” Aguiar said.

This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Arne Jacobson’s last name.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or andrew.graham@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

Andrew Graham

Business enterprise and investigations, The Press Democrat 

I dig into businesses, utility companies and nonprofits to learn how their actions, or inactions, impact the lives of North Bay residents. I’m looking to dive deep into public utilities, labor struggles and real estate deals. I try to approach my work with the journalism axioms of giving voice to the voiceless, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable in mind.

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