First offshore wind farm features New Orleans area firm

A Louisiana-based engineering firm has designed the foundations for the first offshore wind farm in the United States, which began installation this week.

New Orleans CityBusiness reports ( the foundations for the five-turbine wind farm were designed by Keystone Engineering of Mandeville and built by Houston-based Gulf Island Fabrication Inc., which constructs large oil platforms.

“It’s a launch of a brand new industry that could be a big deal for the United States and Louisiana,” said Zach Finucane, project manager for Keystone Engineering. “It’s exciting to be a part of this.”

The project, Deepwater Wind, is expected to expand in the future as more contracts come on board.

The platforms, located off the coast of Rhode Island, will generate about 30 megawatts of power and have the capability to power 17,000 homes. The project will offer an alternative for the residents of Block Island, who currently pay some of the highest electricity rates in the country.

“It presented an excellent opportunity for offshore wind to be economically viable,” he said.

The process works as wind pushes the blades, which turn and spin an array of magnets inside a coil of wire. The spinning magnets push electrons through the wire and eventually reaches a substation, where electricity is distributed into the grid. Developers hope to start generating power by October 2016.