HOUSTON — The Gulf of Mexico could be home to hundreds of thousands of acres of wind farms in the not too distant future. The first turbines are planned to rise from the waters off the coast of Galveston.
President Joe Biden made the announcement Wednesday along with other executive actions related to advancing clean energy.
However, not everyone on the Gulf Coast is so sure it’s a good idea.
More than half a million acres of federal waters about 24 nautical miles from the coast of Galveston is a section of the Gulf that has been designated the “Wind Energy Area.”
At Biden's direction, federal officials are planning to lease the marine property to a company able to turn wind into power.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management officials said the project would be able to produce enough energy to power 3.5 million homes.
“Honestly, the technology could change so that number could increase between today and when it’s implemented 10 years from now,” KHOU 11 energy expert Ed Hirs said.
Hirs has been watching as the wind energy industry is continuing to expand across Texas.
“Having a great, reliable source of low carbon electricity is something that I think is in our national interest,” Hirs said. “But with these wind turbines located in the Gulf of Mexico, there will be times when we have to shut them down, when we have to feather them when a hurricane comes, which we know it will, we will have to shut them down.”
Hirs said diverse sources of energy will continue to be a part of our lives for many years to come. Federal officials said the plan off the Galveston coast is still a draft and public comments will be heard in a few weeks.
Among those with concerns are many of the region’s fishers and shrimpers. Texas shrimpers said they’ve been burned in the past by others who do business in the Gulf. They claim the offshore oil industry has left debris and equipment at the bottom of the ocean floor. The unseen material often gets caught in their trawl nets causing major damage to their boats.
For many, the prospect of green energy on a grand scale off the Texas shore is exciting. But for those who make their living from the Gulf, and conservationists concerned about possible impacts on wildlife, still have questions.