Wind turbines get the green light in Louisiana

They don’t really do wind power in the South – mainly because they don’t do much wind, with the exception of the occasional devastating hurricane of course.

Ten of the 11 states in the U.S. that have zero installed wind capacity are either firmly Deep South or Border states – the outlier being Connecticut. But wind might soon encroach in Dixie as a proposal for an eight-turbine, approximately 20-megawatt array in the southern Louisiana parish of St. Mary moves forward.

St. Mary Parish, Louisiana (image via NOAA)

The parish council recently granted a specific use permit [PDF] to a company that wants to build the wind farm in what a newspaper described as “an isolated patch of coastal land near the Port of West St. Mary.”

This is about 100 miles west of New Orleans in Cajun country and there, not far from the Gulf, the winds are a little better than in the rest of the state. Not that it looks to be anything like the real U.S. wind zone, that wide strip of the plains down from North Dakota to West Texas.

But apparently the developer thinks he can make it work.

“Our winds are very generous for us down there,” Bill Gallardo of Southern State Renewable Energy told the Baton Rouge newspaper The Advocate. The parish, which doesn’t seem to be putting anything on the line beyond simply allowing the development on private agricultural land, sees wind as a way to diversify beyond traditional fossil fuels. This is place, you should know, that is home to the annual Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival. “Now we are going from black gold into a little bit of green gold,” economic development director Frank Fink told the paper.

No doubt other wind projects have been and are being contemplated in the South, but this is the most viable-appearing one we’ve spotted in a while. More than a year ago we wrote about a proposal for a big one in Palm Beach County, Fla., but it seems to have stalled amid concerns about its impact on birds and skepticism about the available wind resource.

* Pete Danko, EarthTechling