Feds to Propose Massive Offshore Wind Farm Near Galveston, TX

Arnold & Itkin

The Biden Administration has proposed leasing more than 500,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico to build an offshore wind farm about 24 miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas. Once completed, the project would span an area greater than the size of Houston and produce enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes.

This focus on offshore wind aligns with President Biden’s 2021 commitment to transitioning the United States to clean, renewable energy. That plan included producing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030. This new proposal would be a big step toward accomplishing this.

In October 2021, the Department of the Interior announced its intention to consider an area spanning nearly 30 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore wind turbines, reaching from the Mississippi River to the border of Mexico. After reviewing public comments and considering the potential impact that a wind farm of that size would have on marine life, the area was reduced to 734,688 acres: 546,645 acres off the coast of Galveston, and 188,023 acres off the coast of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

The U.S. Coast Guard is also set to review the proposal to offer insight on whether commercial and recreational boating activities would be affected by the turbines’ presence. Offshore wind farms have already presented challenges for vessels attempting to navigate the waters where they’re located, such as a January 2022 incident involving a container vessel that struck an offshore wind installation in the North Sea. As more offshore wind farms are constructed, the chances of a collision will increase exponentially.

Some doubt the efficiency of offshore wind installations in the Gulf of Mexico, with the area’s propensity to be struck by hurricanes and other severe weather. Offshore turbines would need to be constructed to withstand hurricane-force winds and turbulent seas. Their production would also need to be maximized during calm and severe weather alike. Wind turbines cannot produce meaningful levels of electricity when the wind becomes too strong. They must shut down altogether in gale-force winds, and land-based wind turbines may be severely damaged by tornadoes and extreme weather. This is something that any offshore wind contractor would have to address in building an installation in the Gulf of Mexico, where bad weather is unavoidable.

However, an offshore wind development of this size would create numerous well-paying jobs, and, if executed properly, could provide outage-ridden areas of Texas with power in their time of need. Supporters of the Gulf of Mexico offshore wind installation also claim that the area already has skilled workers and an established supply chain for offshore wind production.

As the U.S. turns to offshore winds and other forms of renewable energy, we must consider the safety of the workers who are responsible for building and maintaining these installations. Wind turbines keep getting bigger. Safely building and maintaining these immense pieces of machinery demands complete adherence to workplace safety on land and offshore. As leading offshore injury attorneys, we at Arnold & Itkin will follow this proposed installation as it develops.

For more information, give our team a call at (888) 346-5024. You can also read the following blogs: Offshore Wind Worker Injuries: Taking a Closer Look at America’s Commitment to Renewable Energy and Container Ships at Risk of Hitting Offshore Wind Installations.

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