Wind energy could be coming to the coast of Southwest Louisiana

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - An effort to reduce our carbon footprint is making its way to Southwest Louisiana as President Joe Biden’s executive actions outline the creation of a wind energy area in the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.S. Department of Interior announced it is seeking public comment on two draft wind energy areas.

One of the locations is approximately 56 nautical miles off the coast of Lake Charles. It covers over 180,000 acres with the potential to power 799,000 homes.

The expansion of wind energy to the state is something Governor Jon Bel Edwards said his administration is excited to see.

In a statement, 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 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.”

7News spoke with associate director of Tulane’s Energy Institute, Eric Smith, who said there are pros to the expansion.

“We know how to do it,” Smith said. “We have some of the vessels you need to do it. It is a logical place for us to participate in.”

He said there are also cons.

“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.”

Some worry this will cause competition between wind energy and the LNG industry.

In a statement, Congressman Clay Higgins said, “I support an all-of-the-above energy policy, wind included when it’s feasible. However, the Biden administration’s predatory attacks on the oil and gas industry are killing jobs and driving up energy costs for American families. The real world still runs on oil and gas and it will for the foreseeable future.”

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said, “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.”

There is a 30-day public comment period for the two drafts that started on July 20. Click here for more information.

Click here for more information about the environmental assessment. A Gulf of Mexico Task Force Meeting on offshore wind will be held on July 27.

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