- The U.S. Department of Interior has announced a proposed lease sale of more than 122,000 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy leasing. The sale will result in a single lease being awarded.
- Known as the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area, it was outlined by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) two years ago.
- The sale will be published in the Federal Register today, kicking off a 60-day public comment period.
DOI is moving ahead with a lease sale offshore North Carolina, just as the nation's first offshore wind facility is in construction in offshore Rhode Island. The United States has trailed European nations in the installation of offshore wind, but as the country ramps up clean energy goals, it is increasingly looking out to sea for renewable power.
“This is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast wind energy resources along the Atlantic Coast,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
Jewell said the federal government worked with concerns at all levels before finalizing the sale, looking top minimize conflicts. "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," she said.
The area proposed for leasing remains unchanged since BOEM announced the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area in 2014. It begins about 24 nautical miles from shore and extends almost 26 nautical miles in a general southeast direction
BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said that once the project is complete it will "assist local governments in achieving their renewable energy goals.”
BOEM said it will host a public seminar focused on the auction format in mid-September in Raleigh, N.C. The agency is also planning a public meeting in Kitty Hawk, N.C., sometime next month,
So far, BOEM has awarded 11 commercial offshore wind leases, including nine through the competitive lease sale process: two offshore New Jersey, two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia. The agency said the lease sales have generated approximately $16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.
The North Carolina sale could have been larger, but earlier this year BOEM moved two proposed wind energy areas from North Carolina to South Carolina, leaving only the 122,400-acre Kitty Hawk area available for North Carolina offshore wind development.
Earlier this summer, developers of the 30 MW Block Island wind project offshore Rhode Island began taking deliveries of turbines, preparing for the final phase of construction. It would be the first commercial wind facility offshore the United States, and the project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.