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Wind Power for Old Oil Rigs

Talk about a transformation, a unique arrangement off the coast of Louisiana could soon allow wind turbines to be placed on derelict off-shore oil rigs.

Backers of a plan to generate electricity using wind turbines mounted on off-shore Louisiana oil rigs are developing a 10 MW pilot project, called Grand Vent, with three rigs off the state's southwest coast.

Herman Schellstede of Wind Energy Systems Technology (WEST) said the company hopes to have one of three turbines in place by the end of the year. Federal regulations require oil companies to remove inactive offshore platforms within one year after they cease production, and removal costs can go as high as US $40 million.

Using a dormant platform for wind energy can prevent costly decommissioning and give the rig new life. Public Service Commission (PSC) officials are working on a wind energy study with the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

Using an existing oil platform for a wind turbine also cuts out the high costs associated with construction of off-shore wind turbine footings by using an existing structure that can no longer satisfy its intended purpose.

"Grand Vent will show whether the combination of consistent offshore wind, modern wind-turbine technology and unused oil platforms can produce clean and inexpensive power for Louisiana," Public Service Commissioner (PSC) Frank Campbell said. "I am greatly encouraged by what we have learned so far. Louisiana is a leader in offshore energy production, and generating energy from wind may continue and extend that tradition well into the future."

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