Offshore Wind Proposals Move Along In Texas

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While the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes regions receive much of the attention for building offshore wind farms, a few developments in Texas are steadily progressing.

One project, proposed by Coastal Point Energy, has been in the works for years and just might be able to begin installing turbines this year. But all that depends on the approval of a power purchase agreement (PPA).

Coastal Point Energy grew out of Wind Energy Systems Technology (W.E.S.T.), a company that applied for and received leases for offshore wind development from the Texas General Land Office (GLO) in 2007.

Coastal Point has proposed to build a 12 MW project off the coast of Galveston, Texas. The company is awaiting a decision by Austin Energy on a PPA submitted by Coastal Point for all 12 MW of the project. A decision is expected early this summer.

Herman J. Schellstede, vice president of Coastal Point, says the design of the Galveston project is complete and that finances are also in place.

‘We have commitments – as long as we get that power purchase agreement,’ he says. ‘Once we have that in hand, it's automatic. All of our vendors are lined up and ready to go.’

The project would utilize four 3 MW turbines, and the company is currently in negotiations with China-based turbine manufacturer Mingyang Wind Power Industry Group Co. Ltd.

Texas is unique compared to other states because it has control over coastal waters approximately 10 miles out – unlike the 3-mile limit elsewhere. When the state entered the union, it kept the same boundaries it had as an independent nation back in 1845.

Any project located within 10 miles of the coast of Texas does not have to deal with federal regulators. Project developers obtain leases from the GLO and permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Baryonyx Corp. has obtained leases from the GLO for 67,000 acres, also off the east coast of Texas. The company will soon submit its application for a general permit to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to Mark Leyland, senior vice president of offshore wind projects for the company.

The company's plan is to build data centers in conjunction with the wind projects. The wind would then power the data centers.

‘We're much further down the line with the data centers than we are with the offshore wind farms simply because the offshore wind farms are, by their very nature, extremely capex-intensive,’ says Leyland.

According to Schellstede, Coastal Points' proposed Galveston wind project has all of its necessary permits. W.E.S.T. has obtained leases for five areas in Beaumont, Freeport, Corpus Christi, Brownsville and Galveston, Texas. All the sites combined have potential for 4,190 MW, according to Schellstede.

In addition, Coastal Energy has proposed a hybrid project off the coast of Louisiana. The 50 MW project would be backed up by 100% gas-powered turbines and is estimated to cost $189 million.

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