- The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the Department of the Interior issued a Call for Information and Nominations on potential interest from private developers or utilities in taking leases in four areas off the coast of South Carolina for offshore wind development.
- Stakeholders responded cautiously to the BOEM Call opening four areas off the coast from Charelston to Myrtle Beach to wind development. They raised concerns about protection of the viewscape and about one area’s location adjacent to the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge.
- South Carolina’s 2009 Wind Energy Production Farms Feasibility Study Committee recommended that the state support offshore wind development. That recommendation was behind the GE Energy-Clemson University partnership that built one of the biggest wind turbine drivetrain test facilities in the world at the university's Restoration Institute.
BOEM has approved leases off seven New England states’ coasts. Interest off the coasts of the Southeastern states has been limited because power prices in the region are below the national average while the costs of developing offshore wind are significantly higher than for developing natural gas, onshore wind, or utility-scale solar.
Those factors may be behind the tepid response from power sector stakeholders to four new swaths of ocean opened to development last week. The Post and Courier reports that the state's utilities indicated little interest in developing the areas, and some wildlife advocates raised concerns about a potential wind farm's impact on a nearby animal refuge.
The four proposed lease areas off the South Carolina coast total over 1,100 square miles on the Outer Continental Shelf. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell has promised no development will take place until there has been a thorough “collaborative effort to identify high potential/low conflict areas for development, supporting investment and jobs in South Carolina.”
Deepwater Wind’s 30 MW, five turbine installation off Rhode Island’s Block Island will be the first operational U.S. offshore wind project. It began construction this past summer and is expected online by 2017. Its power purchase agreement provides its output to National Grid at $0.244/ kWh.