Governor Edwards presents new climate change initiative in offshore wind power production
BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards presented his vision for a renewable energy initiative for the Gulf of Mexico on Monday during the inaugural meeting of the Climate Initiatives Task Force he created earlier this year. The proposal includes plans to harness Louisiana's strengths in offshore energy production for the development of wind power, the nation's number one source of renewable energy.
Offshore wind energy is one of the many strategies the task force plans to pursue to curb the growth of greenhouse gas emissions that have reduced air quality, contributed to coastal erosion through sea rise, and increased the severity of weather events.
“I have asked Dr. Walter Cruickshank and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to help us establish a task force of federal, state and local officials who will build a blueprint for renewable energy production in the Gulf of Mexico,” Gov. Edwards said. “This is not some ‘pie in the sky’ promise of economic opportunity. We already have an emerging offshore wind energy industry, and Louisiana’s offshore oil and gas industry has played a key role in the early development of U.S. offshore wind energy in the Atlantic Ocean.”
The nation's first commercial offshore wind farm "Block Island" was developed off the coast of Rhode Island in a combined effort from Louisiana liftboat operators, Lafayette-based Aries Marine Corp. and Galliano-based Falcon Global LLC. For that project, Metairie-based Keystone Engineering provided design assistance and Houma-based Gulf Island Fabrication built foundation jackets and piling.
“Renewable energy like offshore wind can help the state cut its emissions and do its part in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change,” Deputy Director Harry Vorhoff of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities said. “I applaud Governor Edwards for opening the door, so we can take a hard look at how and where renewable energy is deployed in the federal waters off Louisiana’s coast. I look forward to working with BOEM and coordinating this effort across federal, state, local, and tribal governments.”
Governor Edwards recently requested the establishment of a task force to coordinate commercial leasing proposals for wind energy in federal waters off Louisiana's coast from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s acting director, Dr. Cruickshank. That effort will create a business path for the development of wind farms in the Gulf of Mexico.
One 600-megawatt wind farm in the Gulf would produce an estimated 44,000 jobs and $445 million in economic output during the construction phase, based on modeling by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
These operations would contribute 150 new permanent jobs and an estimated $14 million in annual spending.
By 2035, industry forecasts suggest U.S. offshore wind energy capacity could grow to 22 gigawatts through $70 billion of new capital investment in manufacturing and port infrastructure, as well as 45,000 new direct jobs.
“Louisiana possesses numerous important sectors of our economy, including longstanding and significant contributions from the energy industry,” LED Secretary Don Pierson said. “As technology and expertise advances, we should explore additional opportunities in energy, such as offshore wind. Some of the state’s offshore oil and gas service-providers have already played a key role in the early development of offshore wind projects off the East Coast, so it makes plenty of sense to pursue that renewable energy source and the associated economic benefits.”
The Bureau of Ocean Management commissioned two separate three-year studies to determine the technical feasibility and economic potential and offshore wind energy in the Gulf of Mexico. Both studies, completed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2020, estimate the Gulf could produce 10% of U.S. wind energy.
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