Louisiana Proposes 5 GW of Offshore Wind for Gulf of Mexico
On February 1, 2022, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force submitted its 177-page Climate Action Plan, which proposes a goal of 5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind (OSW) power generation by 2035 and notes that:
[T]his goal requires strategic collaboration across Louisiana state agencies and the federal government, transmission planning agencies, energy regulators, utilities, and the private sector to take additional steps to advance the development of offshore wind power generation. To spur large-scale, responsible development of this energy resource, efforts should prioritize early and repeated stakeholder outreach, strategic planning for anticipated transmission and workforce needs, and improving the understanding of potential environmental and social impacts and opportunities to avoid, address, or capitalize on them.
The Climate Action Plan also notes that, according to a 2020 report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Louisiana ranks fourth in state offshore technical wind potential in the Gulf of Mexico, with over 200 GW of wind potential split almost equally between fixed-bottom OSW systems and floating OSW systems.
In line with Louisiana’s goal, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) continues its planning and analysis process for OSW development in the Gulf of Mexico. On January 11, 2022, BOEM announced that it is preparing a draft environmental assessment (EA) for the Gulf of Mexico Call Area to assess potential impacts associated with issuing wind leases and conducting site assessment and characterization activities in the area. The Gulf of Mexico area includes approximately 30 million acres of federal lands on the outer continental shelf and covers areas in what is commonly known as the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico. BOEM anticipates completing the draft EA this summer. On February 2, 2022, BOEM held its second virtual Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force meeting. These meetings serve as a forum to discuss public and stakeholder issues and exchange data and information about ocean use and resources.