How can one of the country’s largest oil-and-gas producing states become an offshore wind powerhouse? C2ES gathered 60 local leaders from across Louisiana to try to answer that question in a full-day roundtable in mid-March. Attendees included project developers; vessel builders and operators; manufacturers; educational institutions; economic development organizations; community advocates; nonprofits; and local, state, and federal government officials.
With the Gulf of Mexico’s first offshore wind lease sale on the horizon, the time is ripe to consider how Louisiana can proactively seize the economic opportunity the offshore wind industry could bring. Louisiana’s role in the industry could extend beyond hosting local projects in the Gulf, to leveraging the state’s workforce, maritime companies, and manufacturing capacity for projects across the country. Already, Louisiana companies have been central to completing flagship projects in other parts of the country, such as Block Island in Rhode Island. In fact, about a quarter of all U.S. contracts in offshore wind are going to businesses in Louisiana and other Gulf states, according to the Business Network for Offshore Wind.
Given this early success, it’s no surprise that roundtable attendees expressed enthusiasm and optimism about the economic opportunity from offshore wind. Still, they were clear-eyed about what remains to happen to help Louisiana seize that opportunity. Here are some of the major points we heard that need to be addressed to help Louisiana secure its role in the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry: