Calls for new Gulf of Mexico, Carolina offshore wind sites The Department of the Interior announced this week it is soliciting interest in building offshore wind energy projects in the Gulf of Mexico, where the offshore services industry is looking to apply its expertise from oil and gas to the emerging U.S. wind sector.

“We know that offshore wind development has the potential to create tens of thousands of good-paying, union jobs across the nation,’ said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in the June 8 announcement. “This is an important first step to see what role the Gulf may play in this exciting frontier.”

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will publish a Request for Interest in the federal Register on Friday to assess interest in potential offshore wind development on the gulf Outer Continental Shelf, focusing on the agency’s western and central planning areas off Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama.

“Although the primary focus of the RFI is on wind energy development, BOEM is also seeking information on other renewable energy technologies” such as tidal energy, according to agency officials.

“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.”

The notice a 45-day public comment period to “solicit indications of competitive interest” from the offshore wind industry” along with “additional information on potential environmental consequences and other uses of the proposed area” for BOEM to consider in next steps toward renewable energy leasing process, according to the agency.

BOEM is assembling a Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force to help coordinate planning, solicit feedback, and exchange scientific and process information. The group will first meet June 15 with representation from federal, Tribal, state and local governments from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order Wednesday calling for developing 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind energy for the state grid by 2030 and building that out to 8 GW by 2040. The North Carolina plan would kick the total commitment from East Coast states for offshore power up to 40 GW from Maine to the Carolinas.

“North Carolina’s national leadership in clean energy and manufacturing plus our highly trained workforce create a strong business environment for offshore wind supply chain and manufacturing companies,” Cooper said in announcing the order.

“This coordinated approach to developing our offshore wind supply chain will bring new jobs to North Carolina for generations to come,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “From building out the supply chain, to installing equipment, to operating the wind facilities, North Carolina’s manufacturers and workforce are well positioned to play an integral role in the entire East Coast market, not just for projects directly off the state’s coast.”

Sanders is to name a clean energy economic development coordinator and establish the North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies.

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for more than 30 years and a 25-year field editor for National Fisherman before joining our Commercial Marine editorial staff in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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