Entergy Corp. said it is actively exploring potential offshore wind projects in the Gulf of Mexico, a possibility that could help wean Louisiana’s power sector off fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy, in line with the state’s climate goals. ‘State.
Entergy Louisiana, Entergy New Orleans and Diamond Offshore Wind have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate “potential early development” of offshore wind energy in Louisiana state waters, the companies announced Friday.
Governor John Bel Edwards’ Climate Task Force, which aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, calls for get 5 gigawatts of power of offshore wind generation by 2035. Climate targets have helped spark interest in the Gulf from some of the world’s largest wind developers, and Entergy’s announcement makes it the latest to target the Louisiana coast.
Leaders hope wind power could provide clean energy and resuscitate the state’s offshore economy, which for decades employed thousands of people in the oil sector.
Friday’s announcement is a very early step in the process. To build offshore wind farms in state waters, developers would have to apply to the Department of Natural Resources to do a lease sale for an area, which would trigger a public bidding process.
The Legislature this year passed a bill that updated state bid laws to account for wind projects. They also passed a resolution asking the Public Service Commission to assess a pilot offshore wind project by 2026.
This week, Civil Service Commissioner Craig Greene issued a directive to utilities to assess the costs and benefits of offshore wind energy in their long-term resource planning.
“The LPSC wants to know how each tool in the toolkit can be used to provide reliable and affordable electricity to Louisiana residents and businesses,” Greene said Friday. “That’s why the commission asked each utility to fully analyze the feasibility of offshore wind. as each company completes its resource planning. I can’t wait to see what these ratings tell us about Louisiana’s future with offshore wind.
“This is an important first step in eventually bringing wind power to our Louisiana shores,” Phillip May, president and CEO of Entergy Louisiana said in a prepared statement. “While there is still work to be done before that happens, we are excited about the opportunity to begin this process.”
The MoU establishes a legal framework for Entergy and Diamond Offshore to potentially develop wind projects and assess how to connect these projects to the transmission grid. Ensuring that electricity generated by offshore breezes can reach residential and commercial customers is a key part of wind farm development.
Entergy still derives the vast majority of its electricity from natural gas, which powers its large production units; 76% of electricity in Louisiana comes from natural gas. But he has taken small steps lately to diversify. This week, the Public Service Commission approved a deal that will see Entergy Louisiana obtain 475 megawatts of solar power from four projects around Louisiana. That’s a small portion of the nearly 12,000 megawatts of Entergy Louisiana’s portfolio.
Diamond Offshore is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation. The company said in a press release that it has developed seven utility-scale offshore wind projects and 12 offshore wind transmission projects.
Gulf waters off the Texas coast have greater wind potential than off the Louisiana coast, but the Louisiana Climate Task Force has helped spark interest in the state . Meanwhile, federal regulators are seeking to create a wind power zone in the Gulf near Lake Charles as part of President Joe Biden’s effort to secure 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.