- North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, D, laid out ambitious offshore wind goals Wednesday as the state pushes toward its aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 70% below 2005 levels by 2030.
- Cooper's executive order calls for the state to develop 2.8 GW of offshore wind projects by 2030 and 8 GW by 2040, or enough turbines to power 2.3 million homes.
- The governor's move comes as President Joe Biden's administration pushes ahead with its own ambitious offshore wind agenda, with a key meeting slated for next week.
With the executive order, North Carolina becomes the latest East Coast state to roll out an ambitious offshore wind development plan.
New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are all now pursuing sweeping plans of their own, with the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts' coast expected to be the first utility-scale offshore wind project in the U.S.
But North Carolina's commitment is one of the biggest to date, stacking up against Virginia's goal of installing 5.2 GW of offshore wind power by 2034 and New Jersey's goal of 7.5 GW by 2035, said Michelle Allen, project manager for the North Carolina political affairs team at the Environmental Defense Fund.
"It really signals the offshore wind industry that North Carolina is all-in on wind," Allen said.
To help spur offshore wind projects along the North Carolina coast, the governor's executive order calls for appointing an "offshore wind coordinator" to work with all the various state and federal agencies involved in the effort.
Cooper also plans to launch an offshore wind task force that will "advise on programs and policies for developing offshore wind energy projects," and "foster industry relationships through the offshore wind supply chain." In addition, the task force will work as a liaison, connecting the industry and its research efforts to North Carolina colleges and universities, as well as spurring economic and other opportunities for "equitable access" among the state's "underserved communities," according to the executive order.
"The state's goals are ambitious and Gov. Cooper's vision for this and the ambitious nature of these efforts is really impressive and exciting," said Erin Carey, director of coastal programs for the Sierra Club in North Carolina. "It shows just how serious the state is."
North Carolina's big move comes as the Biden administration makes the development of offshore wind power a key plank in its plan to fight climate change, with hopes of building out 30 GW of the resource by 2030, or enough for 10 million homes. As part of this push, the federal government is also making available $3 billion in loan guarantees for offshore wind projects and $500 million for improvements at ports that will help service these projects.
As the Biden administration looks to expand the use of offshore wind, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold its first meeting on June 15 of a task force devoted to examining the potential for windpower development in the Gulf of Mexico.
The states along the Gulf Coast make up just under a third of the "shallow-water offshore wind potential in the U.S., with the highest potential wind resources off the Texas and Louisiana coasts," according to BOEM.
In a related move, the federal agency plans to publish in the Federal Register on Friday a notice seeking interest in leases for wind power projects off the coasts of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama, the Associated Press reports.
Meanwhile, offshore wind investors will now be looking even more closely at North Carolina, said Sam Salustro, the director of coalitions and strategic partnerships at the Business Network for Offshore Wind, in a statement.
"The governor's large procurement goal further solidifies investor confidence in the U.S. market and will help drive investment decisions to North Carolina and American shores," Salustro said.