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The 2nd Annual Tulane Offshore Wind Conference capped off Louisiana Offshore Wind Week on Friday, January 19th. The conference included panels of offshore wind energy professionals discussing topics including leasing, permitting, financing, and the supply chain for US offshore wind energy.

Panelists were confident in Louisiana’s strong ability to participate, both as a supplier of goods and services to US offshore wind energy development and as a situs for offshore wind farm projects, however, a key takeaway repeated throughout the program is the need for certainty in order to successfully develop US offshore wind projects offshore Louisiana and elsewhere. Challenges to certainty currently exist in many areas, including rising costs, long permitting timelines, and supply chain disruption.

The first federal offshore lease auction in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) region was held in August 2023, which resulted in RWE Offshore US Gulf, LLC securing one lease offshore Lake Charles, Louisiana. The two other areas offered for wind leasing offshore Galveston, Texas received no bids. BOEM recently announced that the next federal offshore lease auction will be in the Central Atlantic, but  BOEM is already planning a second potential GOM sale with the 5 areas on the map below under consideration.

Meanwhile, the State of Louisiana has negotiated two operating agreements for offshore wind in state waters.  Diamond Offshore Wind Louisiana secured a 6,162-acre property agreement off the coast of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, and Cajun Wind obtained a 59,653-acre agreement off the coast of Cameron Parish.

Obtaining leases in GOM is only the very beginning of the lengthy process in developing US offshore wind projects. As these projects move into the permitting process, collaboration, adaptive management, and creativity were discussed as essential to permitting projects to construction. Panelists at the conference noted that more collaboration between state and federal agencies is necessary in moving these projects forward. The need to reduce risk by shortening permitting timelines and the competing need for better, sooner, and more local community engagement in the process were discussed.

With three offshore wind projects currently moving forward in GOM, community interest is rising. A total of 235 persons attended the Tulane Offshore Wind Conference, 179 in person and 56 virtual.

Contact Liskow attorneys Jana Grauberger and Randee Iles for further information regarding this topic.

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