The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has finalised two wind energy areas (WEAs) for offshore windfarms in the Gulf of Mexico, with the potential to produce enough clean wind energy to power nearly 3M homes.
The first WEA is located approximately 24 nautical miles (nm) off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The area totals 508,265 acres and has the potential to power 2.1M homes. The second WEA is located approximately 56 nm off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The area totals 174,275 acres and has the potential to power over 740,000 homes.
BOEM said it collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build an ocean model that analysed the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to find areas that have the least conflict with other uses and the lowest environmental impact.
BOEM director Amanda Lefton said, “These two wind energy areas represent exciting progress toward having the first offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, where there is a mature industry base and the know how to advance energy development in the outer continental shelf.
“The region can play a central role in our nation’s clean energy transition to support good paying jobs and fight climate change. BOEM will continue to work with the coastal states and communities as we advance our work and do so in a manner that seeks to avoid or minimise conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.”
In July 2022, the Department of the Interior announced that BOEM was seeking input on two draft WEAs during a 30-day public comment period. Due to feedback received during a Gulf of Mexico Renewable Energy Task Force meeting, BOEM extended the comment period to 45 days, which closed on 2 September 2022. BOEM received 107 comments, which helped inform the final WEAs.
BOEM slightly reduced the size of the WEAs from their draft versions to address concerns expressed by the Department of Defense and the US Coast Guard regarding shipping, marine navigation and military operations.
The next steps in BOEM’s renewable energy competitive leasing process include issuing a Proposed Sale Notice with a 60-day public comment period later this year or early next year.