Voices: Oil industry at the forefront of developing offshore wind farms

daily advertiserThe Advertiser | May 23, 2016 | Simon Mahan

A little over a year ago, the Department of Energy issued a report with a bold goal: the U.S. could quadruple the amount of electricity it creates with wind by 2030, generating 20 percent of the power we use to keep America’s lights on. Louisiana is helping us hit that target.

This year, America’s first offshore wind farm is expected to come online off the coast of Rhode Island. And Louisiana’s expertise in offshore oil and gas drilling helped make this possible.

Keystone Engineering, of Mandeville, and Gulf Island Fabrication in Houma, designed and built the project’s steel foundations, which weren’t dissimilar from offshore oil rigs. Because of the state’s experience building offshore drilling projects, experts predict Louisiana’s firms will be at the forefront of constructing new offshore wind farm equipment.

Louisiana is doing more than building parts of America’s first offshore wind project, however. Just outside New Orleans, Blade Dynamics, owned by General Electric, operates a factory employing workers who build wind turbine blades. It’s because of manufacturing-related jobs like these that wind energy already supports 500 jobs and three factories in Louisiana.

Read the full Letter to the Editor here.

Simon Mahan is the Director of Southern Wind Energy Association