Wind energy development along the Atlantic Coast reached an important and exciting milestone. On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced a proposed lease sale for 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy.
This new proposed lease is for the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area, which BOEM identified with members of its North Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force.
The task force includes members from federal, state, tribal, and local government partners. In addition, BOEM considered information gathered through outreach with stakeholders.
Wind Energy Areas
BOEM has already awarded 11 commercial offshore wind leases — including nine through the competitive lease sale process. Two leases are offshore New Jersey, two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland, and one offshore Virginia.
According to Friday’s press release, these lease sales have generated approximately $16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.
U.S. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell cited the value of this major step forward for wind energy.
“This is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast wind energy resources along the Atlantic Coast. The proposed lease sale is the result of thoughtful collaboration at all levels to identify areas offshore North Carolina with great wind energy potential, while minimizing conflicts with other important uses. We will continue to work with the North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force, local communities and key stakeholders as we move forward with harnessing clean energy resources, generating jobs and stimulating local economies.”
The proposed leasing area is the same as the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA) that BOEM announced on August 11, 2014. This WEA begins about 24 nautical miles from shore and extends nearly 25.7 nautical miles in a southeast direction. Its seaward extent ranges from 13.5 nautical miles in the north to .6 of a nautical mile in the south.
Additionally, BOEM announced the Wilmington East and Wilmington West WEAs, — which, due to their proximity and shared attributes — have been coupled with the planning and leasing process for the South Carolina Call Areas.
Information for Leasing
BOEM announced a “Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) and Request for Interest (RFI) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina” will be published in the Federal Register on August 16, 2016, and will include a 60-day public comment period ending on October 17, 2016.
This document provides detailed information concerning the area available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details, and lease execution.
BOEM Director, Abigail Ross Hopper, cites the potential of this energy milestone.
“This is a great day for North Carolina and our country as we continue to make progress on diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio. With the completion of a successful lease sale, North Carolina will move closer to obtaining substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply from offshore wind. Additionally, such supply will assist local governments in achieving their renewable energy goals.”
To be eligible to participate in the lease sale, each company must have been notified by BOEM that it is legally, technically, and financially qualified by the time the Final Sale Notice is published. Comments received electronically or postmarked by October 17, 2016, will be made available to the public.
BOEM will host a public seminar in September in Raleigh, North Carolina. They will describe the auction format, explain the auction rules, and demonstrate the auction process. BOEM will also host a public meeting in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in September. The time, venue, and related materials for the seminar and public meeting will be posted online.
BOEM is responsible for offshore renewable energy development in Federal waters. The agency anticipates future development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) from three general sources: offshore wind energy, ocean wave energy, and current wave energy.
The agency intends to build on their work to advance and promote offshore renewable energy development through a collaborative state-federal process.