Wind energy should be explored

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Published: July 20,2009

During last week’s organizational meeting of the Mississippi Energy Policy Institute (MEPI), it was mentioned on numerous occasions that wind and solar power are not a realistic option for our state as a viable energy supply.

In fact, almost all of the talk from Gov.Haley Barbour as well as others on the agenda, which included some of Barbour’s inner circle of friends like Chip Pickering and Anthony Topazi, spoke almost solely about the federal government’s cap-and-trade tax.

Yet, when it comes to renewable energy, this group seems to only have eyes for what is going to make money.

Instead, this group should be focusing on ways to place wind turbines off the Mississippi Gulf Coast where there is an abundance of wind energy to harness for all of Mississippi to share.

In England, there is a concerted effort to make the change to wind power. And Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change minister Ed Miliband said in that “in terms of electricity, offshore wind power could potentially make the single biggest contribution to our 2020 renewable energy target.”

That’s a pretty bold statement.

Yet, our Energy Policy Institute would rather complain about the Obama administration’s policies.

What would be a better use of time and money would be for the Energy Policy Institute to have a vision of the future that includes renewable energy sources that power the needs of Mississippians.

So, when asked about the option of renewables for Mississippi, the MEPI brushes it aside as folly.

For most of Mississippi, MEPI is correct about wind power. If you look at a wind map of the United States, most of Mississippi is not a likely option for wind. But off the Coast, there is an abundance of wind that should harnessed.

In an evaluation of Global Wind Power by Archer and Jacobson at Stanford University, the authors say offshore wind production offers greater potential for energy generation because of “reduced surface roughness, which results in higher wind speed and thus greater wind power production.” 

Amazingly, according to their study, the best class of wind production is off Louisiana’s and Mississippi’s coast.

But, I thought MEPI said there was no wind in Mississippi?

Apparently, that line of thinking from MEPI is wrong, as an independent study from one of America’s best universities says one of best sources of wind power is just off the coast of Mississippi.

One of the companies that has been most concerned about wind power has been Entergy.

In a February article in the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Entergy was quoted as saying it does not think offshore wind power is promising because turbines would require laying underwater transmission lines and the windmills could be destroyed by hurricanes. 

However, Herman J. Schellstede, chief executive of the New Iberia company Wind Energy System Technologies, LLC, which plans to open a wind farm in early 2011 on a 11,355-acre lease seven miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas, says Entergy’s concerns are “ridiculous.”

After collecting 19 months of wind data, Schellstede said WEST will be ready to install its first turbine this summer. By the end of the year, he hopes to have orders for 62 platforms of turbines. 

Schellstede, who has been busy talking with investors, said his company has filed two applications to build wind farms off the coast of Louisiana: one at Port Fouchon and one off of Venice. He hasn’t yet heard back from the state.

There are those with the vision to make this inexpensive option available in Mississippi if we in Mississippi are willing to listen to what is best for the long-term energy situation for our state.

 

Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

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