Offshore wind energy gets off the ground


Whenever I praise the efforts of the offshore wind energy industry or the solar energy industry, I always get pushback from some in the oil and gas industry about where my allegiance lies. I make no bones about where my loyalty falls — U.S. ENERGY INDEPENDENCE.

But you grew up in the Gulf, you should be behind the oil and gas industry 100%, they say. I am. That industry supports many friends and relatives of mine, and I appreciate that. It supports my job at WorkBoat to some extent. It’s not one or the other. Why can’t it be all of the above and whatever else you have to make the U.S. energy independent?

The offshore wind energy industry is going to create jobs, even here in the Gulf. Those fields are going to need maintenance and repair and the people who do that are going to need boats to go out to the windmills to maintain and repair them. Who makes better offshore service vessels than Gulf Coast yards? Besides we have to look at this as a national effort, not what can the Gulf Coast get out of it but rather, what can the U.S. get out of it. And lest you forget, the wind can blow pretty hard in the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepwater Wind has gotten the green light to go forward with its plan for a five turbine, 30-megawatt project in Rhode Island state waters, the first for the U.S. offshore wind energy industry. Gulf Island fabricators,Houma, La., is fabricating bases for the turbines, which will be located about 12 miles off the coast of the U.S.’s smallest state, whose Block Island will be the beneficiary of most of the power generated by the offshore wind field.

Yes, there is an environmental arm to this story, and that’s what makes some people red-faced mad. Why? What’s wrong with more energy that’s also clean energy? The wind power is expected to cut islanders power costs by 40%, eliminating most of the 1 million gallons of diesel fuel needed to run generators every year.

It’s a new day. There should be room for everyone, not one industry that dominates. There’s still plenty of money to be made. Take the politics out of the way you think about this issue — if you can.

You can read Kirk Moore’s news item about Rhode Island’s offshore wind project in WorkBoat’s June issue. 

About the author

Ken Hocke

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.

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