Louisiana lawmakers want state regulators to study the most cost-effective pathways to complete an offshore wind energy pilot project in the Gulf of Mexico within four years.
The state House of Representatives made its request official Monday with the adoption of House Resolution 25, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Orgeron, R-Larose. According to the resolution, the House “urges and requests” the Public Service Commission to study the benefits, costs and best ways of achieving a demonstrable offshore wind pilot project by 2026.
Studies show Gulf of Mexico wind power is one of the largest untapped energy resources in the nation. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory found Gulf winds can provide double the energy currently being used in all five Gulf states.
The resolution highlights several key reasons why Louisiana’s oil and gas industry has the experience and infrastructure to lead the nation in its transition to wind power.
Engineers from Metairie and fabricators from Houma built the nation’s first offshore wind farm off Rhode Island’s coast. Edison Chouest Offshore, a shipbuilder in Cut Off, is currently building the first wind farm servicing vessel. Louisiana’s ports and shipyards are ideally located and equipped to handle large wind turbine parts.
With the exception of a few fossil fuel proponents, Orgeron’s resolution passed in a bipartisan 80-9 vote.
Rep. Danny McCormick, R-Oil City, was the most vocal opponent the resolution. McCormick, who owns an oil company, has led other unsuccessful attempts to stop the Legislature’s embrace of change in the energy sector. He recently sought to eliminate severance taxes on fossil fuels and filed legislation to exclude wind and solar manufacturers from the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption Program.
Orgeron pointed out that Shell, Exxon and other major oil companies in Louisiana have already invested heavily in wind energy.
McCormick said he is concerned the federal government is trying to “kill” oil and gas, but Orgeron said his legislation has nothing to do with supplanting oil and gas, adding that nearly 40% of the nation’s supply passes through his district.
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