Offshore wind energy leasing opens in Gulf of Mexico


Federal regulators announced last week the first ever Gulf of Mexico offshore wind lease sale, opening sites off the coast of Lake Charles and Galveston, Texas, that could potentially power nearly 1.3 million homes, reports Louisiana Illuminator.

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will auction the lease sites Aug. 29. BOEM published the final sale notice for three areas, each roughly 100,000 acres in federal waters. One is off of Lake Charles, while the other two are offshore from Galveston, Texas.

The areas have the potential to generate 3.7 gigawatts of electricity, according to a U.S. Department of Interior news release.

The sites include 20-nautical mile buffers for migratory birds and menhaden fisheries and exclude waters considered moderate or high shrimping zones.

Thursday’s announcement marks the Biden administration’s third approval of large offshore wind projects. The president’s goal is to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, offering companies a variety of renewable energy tax incentives that Congress enacted through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.

Studies show Gulf wind power is one of the largest untapped energy resources in the nation. During the Trump administration, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found Gulf winds can provide double the energy currently being used in all five Gulf states.

Gulf wind speeds are highest in the west off the coast of Texas and southwest Louisiana, so most development will likely be concentrated in those areas with wind turbines that can withstand Category 5 hurricanes.

One of the biggest challenges for Louisiana will be finding a buyer for the electricity, says Simon Mahan, executive director of the Southern Renewable Energy Association. Louisiana’s utility companies have long resisted incorporating renewables into their generation portfolios, unlike Texas, which has a head start in that area. Read the full story from Louisiana Illuminator.