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Opened in 2016, Deepwater Wind LLC's 30MW Block Island Wind Farm is the first and currently only offshore wind farm in the United States. Photo: Deepwater Wind LLC

U.S. Turns to Gulf of Mexico as Potential New Frontier for Offshore Wind

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1863
June 8, 2021

The U.S. Department of the Interior is moving to explore the potential of offshore wind in the Gulf of Mexico, home to the nation’s vast offshore oil and gas industry.

To date, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has leased approximately 1.7 million acres for offshore wind development and issued 17 commercial leases off the Atlantic seaboard from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, but so far no such plans have existed for the Gulf of Mexico. Now with the Biden Administration’s goal of 30MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, the government is starting to look beyond the Atlantic for opportunities.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is now set to publish a Request for Interest (RFI) in the Federal Register this Friday, June 11, to assess interest in potential offshore wind development in the Western and Central Planning Areas of the Gulf of Mexico offshore the states of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Once published the RFI will open a 45-day public comment period to solicit indications of competitive interest and additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed area. BOEM will then consider the information received to determine next steps in the renewable energy leasing process in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The Gulf of Mexico has decades of offshore energy development expertise. Today’s announcement represents the first step in harnessing that expertise and applying it to the renewable energy sector,” said Mike Celata, regional director of BOEM’s Gulf of Mexico office in New Orleans. “Working directly with our partners in the Gulf, we will make sure that offshore renewable energy development proceeds in an orderly, safe, and environmentally responsible manner.”

As part of the process, BOEM will also convene a Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force comprising members representing federal, Tribal, state and local governments along the Gulf Coast to help coordinate planning, solicit feedback, and exchange scientific and process information.

Although the primary focus of the RFI is on wind energy development, BOEM is also seeking information on other renewable energy technologies.

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