Wind developers have long had their eyes on offshore sites for future development of wind energy, but no offshore projects to date have been completed in the U.S. That may soon change. A major step was taken towards establishing the first windfarm in the Gulf of Mexico when the Texas General Land Office signed an agreement with a wind developer that plans to construct a windfarm approximately seven miles off Galveston Island.
Under the arrangement, Galveston-Offshore Wind, LLC, would initially construct two 80-meter meteorological towers to gather wind data to determine where the 150 MW windfarm would be sited within the 11,355-acre leased area. In addition, studies will be made of migratory bird patterns to attempt to minimize injuries to birds. This is a significant issue in light of the large number of birds that migrate across the Gulf. Once research is completed and necessary permits secured, the developer would proceed with construction of approximately 50 wind turbines, which is estimated to take up to five years and cost approximately $300 million.
Under the agreement, the developer would initially pay the state a 3.5 percent royalty from the windfarm's total production, to increase to 4.5 percent for years 9-16, and to 5.5 percent for years 17-30. Another benefit associated with the deal is that the state's revenues from the agreement, estimated to surpass $26 million, will be deposited in the state's Permanent School Fund, which helps fund public education.