Milestone for US Wind Energy Development
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has seen very strong interest in offshore renewable energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.
BOEM is working closely with several states regarding offshore energy development and is in the process of coordinating federal-state task forces in certain coastal states.
Consistent with the Interior Department’s “Smart from the Start” strategy for offshore wind, each of the Atlantic Wind Energy Areas are designed to make available areas that are attractive for commercial offshore wind development, while also protecting important viewsheds, sensitive habitats and resources and minimizing space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping and fishing.
As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy resources and cut carbon pollution, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Hopper today announced the release of an Environmental Assessment supporting a potential lease sale for more than 300,000 acres of federal waters off the coast of North Carolina for wind energy development.
The Wind Energy Areas identified by BOEM offshore North Carolina total about 307,590 acres and include the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (about 122,405 acres), the Wilmington West Wind Energy Area (about 51,595 acres), and the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (about 133,590 acres).
Source & Image Credit: BOEM
Together, the competitive lease sales have generated more than $14 million in high bids for over 357,000 acres in federal waters. BOEM is expected to hold two additional competitive lease sale auctions in 2015: the Massachusetts lease sale will occur on January 29, and the New Jersey lease sale will follow later this year.
“No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change, and today’s announcement marks yet another milestone in the President’s strategy to develop renewable energy, create American jobs and strengthen the nation’s energy security future,” said Secretary Jewell. “In close coordination with our partners in North Carolina, we are moving forward to determine what places make sense to harness the enormous wind energy potential off the Atlantic seaboard.”
Today’s announcement builds on BOEM’s work to jumpstart development of offshore wind through a collaborative state-federal process to identify Wind Energy Areas and hold competitive lease sales. To date, BOEM has awarded seven commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (Cape Wind in Nantucket Sound off Massachusetts and an area off Delaware) and five competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island, two offshore Maryland and another offshore Virginia).
“Our progress in standing up an offshore wind energy industry is the result of outstanding collaboration with state, tribal and local stakeholders, exemplified by the North Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force,” said Director Hopper. “We look forward to working with the state of North Carolina, industry and a broad range of stakeholders as this exciting process continues to further commercial wind development in the United States.”
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