The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed an important environmental review that will allow the agency to move forward with the offshore wind lease process in North Carolina.
BOEM's revised environmental assessment (EA), which was conducted according to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements, found there would be no significant environmental or socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases within three wind energy areas (WEAs) off the coast of North Carolina.
The WEAs, which total approximately 307,590 acres, include the Kitty Hawk WEA (approximately 122,405 acres), the Wilmington West WEA (51,595 acres), and the Wilmington East WEAÂ (133,590 acres).
As part of this revised EA, BOEM only considered the issuance of leases and approval of site characterization (e.g., shallow hazard, geological, geotechnical, biological and archaeological surveys) and assessment activities (e.g., the installation of meteorological towers and buoys).
BOEM will hold a North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force meeting on Oct. 7 to discuss its approach for an offshore wind auction.
After considering task force input, BOEM will publish its proposal in the Federal Register, which will include a 60-day public comment period.
If, after leases are issued, a lessee proposes to construct a commercial wind energy facility, it must submit a construction and operations plan for BOEM's review and approval. BOEM would then prepare a site-specific NEPA analysis for the project proposed.
In January, BOEM published in the Federal Register an EA for public review. BOEM considered all comments received from cooperating agencies and stakeholders prior to determining leasing activities would not significantly impact existing high-use and sensitive resource areas.