On October 31, 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it has finalized two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) in the Gulf of Mexico, with the aggregate potential to produce enough clean wind energy to power nearly 3 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.
A map of both WEAs can be found on BOEM’s website.
The Gulf of Mexico sites follow in the footsteps of the federal government’s work on the nation’s first large-scale offshore wind projects, for which BOEM held record-breaking lease sales that ushered in billions of dollars in private investment. The growing offshore wind industry will provide Americans with cleaner and cheaper energy, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and invest billions in new American energy supply chains, manufacturing, shipbuilding and servicing.
Guice Offshore, widely considered to be the U.S Flag leader in the operation of dynamically positioned Jones Act-qualified mini-supply vessels and compact, cost-effective multi-purpose vessels for specialty markets such as offshore wind energy, is playing a pivotal role in providing one of the primary needs in the offshore wind supply chain–offshore supply vessels for a multitude of needs, including crew transfer, equipment transport and subsea surveying. Guice Offshore has worked extensively on offshore wind surveys and related jobs for several years now. Working with clients nationwide, as well as in the Caribbean and South America, Louisiana-based Guice Offshore maintains its highly capable vessels in accessible locations for quick response to myriad needs of the many industries it serves.
BOEM uses its renewable energy competitive leasing process to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for development, taking into consideration potential impacts to resources and ocean users. The BOEM 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.
“These two wind energy areas represent exciting progress toward having the first offshore wind lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, where there is a mature industry base and the know how to advance energy development in the Outer Continental Shelf. The region can play a central role in our nation’s clean energy transition to support good paying jobs, fight climate change,” BOEM Director Amanda Lefton said. “BOEM will continue to work with the coastal states and communities as we advance our work and do so in a manner that seeks to avoid or minimize conflicts with other ocean uses and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico.”
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. After reviewing comments submitted during a Gulf of Mexico Renewable Energy Task Force meeting, BOEM extended the comment period to 45 days, which closed on September 2, 2022. Altogether, the BOEM received 107 comments, which helped delineate the final WEAs.
Notably, BOEM slightly reduced the size of the two Gulf of Mexico WEAs from their draft versions to address concerns expressed by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Coast Guard regarding shipping, marine navigation and military operations.
The next steps in BOEM’s renewable energy competitive leasing process for the Gulf of Mexico offshore wind areas include issuing a Proposed Sale Notice with a 60-day public comment period later this year or early next year.
To review all Gulf of Mexico updates, click HERE.
Hyperlinks to public engagement meeting notes are below.
- Gulf of Mexico Draft EA Meeting
- Gulf of Mexico Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meetings
- Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Summit
- Wind Energy Area Draft EJ POCs Meeting
Links to the coordinates and maps for the Gulf of Mexico WEA blocks are below.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is responsible for America’s offshore energy and mineral resources. The bureau promotes energy independence, environmental protection and economic development through responsible, science-based management of energy and mineral resources on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.