Louisiana May Be Next To Benefit From Offshore Wind Energy
In January Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force approved the state’s first-ever Climate Action Plan. The initiative is to do our part as a state to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. Edwards' Climate Action Plan is backed by science and contains 28 strategies and 84 specific actions to reduce GHG emissions statewide. Louisiana’s plan will evenly position the state to continue its competitiveness economically and limit the severity of climate change at the same time. The goal is to reach zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Louisiana's plan of action is in line with 25 other U.S. states, hundreds of private sector companies, and the Paris Agreement.
On Wednesday, July 20, President Biden announced that he wanted to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity for Americans. By creating clean energy jobs that pay well, we can lower the costs of living for families. Some of Biden's executive actions will include protecting communities from the impact of extreme heat and the expansion of offshore wind opportunities to accelerate energy security in the United States. Speaking of which, Louisiana will be among the newest states taking advantage of offshore wind industry benefits. Governor Edwards said,
We are excited to see the federal government take yet another step forward in bringing offshore wind to the Gulf of Mexico and thrilled that southwest Louisiana was selected as one of the first two Energy Areas. Increasing the production of renewable energy is not only one of the three main pillars of our state’s climate action plan, but also a tremendous economic opportunity for our state that capitalizes on our workforce, port system, and 70 years of energy experience in the Gulf. Today’s announcement is good for Louisiana and brings us closer to achieving our goal of 5GW of offshore wind by 2035.
There are two areas in the Gulf of Mexico that the U.S. Department of Interior is looking at for the wind energy project. The first draft WEA is located roughly 24 nautical miles off the coast of Galveston, TX on 546,645 acres, with the potential to power 2.3 million homes with clean wind energy. The second draft WEA is located about 56 nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles, LA. on 188,023 acres and with the potential to power 799,000 homes.
Eric Smith, Associate Director at Tulane Energy Institute, is following this story closely. He spoke with KPLC and noted there are pros and cons of wind energy expansion saying, “We know how to do it. We have some of the vessels you need to do it. It is a logical place for us to participate in.” The cons according to Smith are that “It’s more expensive to do off-shore than it is on-shore, and we don’t have the premium quality wind that others do,” Smith said. “Nor do we have a high-cost alternative. Whatever we do, this is going to cost more than what we do with natural gas.”
However, Amanda Lefton, Director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) finds the pros outweigh the cons. Lefton has plenty of experience in the matter as prior to her current position, she was the First Assistant Secretary for Energy and Environment for then Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York.
The Gulf of Mexico is well-positioned to support a transition to a renewable energy future, as much of the infrastructure already exists to support offshore wind development in the region,” She added. “BOEM’s Environmental Assessment is an important step to ensure that any development in the region is done responsibly and in a way that avoids, reduces, or mitigates potential impacts to the ocean and to ocean users.” Lefton continued. “The total of both areas was reduced from 30 million acres to 734,688 acres to avoid potential impacts to commercial and recreational fishing, maritime navigation, military activities, marine protected species, avian species, existing infrastructure and other ocean uses and resources.
If you would like to make a comment concerning the two drafts for clean wind energy on federal land, click here. For more info concerning the environmental assessment, click here. July 27, 2022, there will be a Gulf of Mexico Task Force Meeting on offshore clean wind energy set to offer even more details concerning this project.