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Offshore Wind Developers Eyeing Louisiana for Gulf’s First Turbines

The Texas coast may have better winds for offshore wind development, but it’s Louisiana’s political winds that are drawing the interest of the industry’s two biggest players.

Orsted and RWE, which rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the booming offshore wind market, both highlighted Louisiana’s political support for offshore wind in letters to federal energy regulators tasked with readying the Gulf of Mexico for what could be a flurry of offshore wind development.

RWE, a German company that has renewable energy operations in 15 countries, urged regulators to focus on Louisiana despite studies showing Texas has a clear advantage with stronger, more consistent wind speeds.

“To date, Louisiana is the only state along the Gulf of Mexico that has signaled its interest in pursuing an offshore wind policy to meet its climate objectives,” Kate McKeever, an RWE manager of U.S. government affairs, told the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, also known as BOEM.

RWE cited the Louisiana Climate Initiatives Task Force’s latest draft climate plan, which highlights the need to rapidly develop offshore wind in the Gulf to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions and meet Gov. John Bel Edwards’ goal of “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050. The draft plan, released late last month, proposes enacting an offshore wind energy goal of 5,000 megawatts by 2035.

“With the development of renewable energy policy in Louisiana, there is a pathway with a timeframe of when commercial viability may be achieved,” McKeever said. “As such, RWE Renewables recommends that BOEM prioritize advancing a leasing area off Louisiana, specifically western Louisiana due to stronger wind speeds.”

The Gulf’s sweet spot for offshore wind development may be the coastal waters near Lake Charles, according to RWE.

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson welcomed RWE’s interest.

“It feels very much like validation to me,” he said Friday. “I like the way we’re positioning policy and corporate interest in the sector to grow opportunities for offshore wind and other renewables.”

RWE’s comments “underscore how taking action on climate change can support economic growth,” said Harry Vorhoff, senior staffer for the climate task force and deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities.

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