NEW ORLEANS – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) says that it has finalized two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico, which it says has the potential to produce enough wind energy to power nearly three million 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 2.1 million 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 says that it collaborated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to build an ocean model that analyzed the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem to find areas that have the least conflict with other uses and the lowest environmental impact.
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 Sept. 2, 2022. BOEM received 107 comments, which it says 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.