U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper have announced a proposed lease sale for 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy leasing as part of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop domestic clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution.
According to the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), the proposed lease is for the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA), which BOEM identified in consultation with members of its North Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force. In addition, the DOI states that BOEM considered information gathered through outreach with stakeholders.
“This is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast wind energy resources along the Atlantic Coast,” says Secretary Jewell. “The proposed lease sale is the result of thoughtful collaboration at all levels to identify areas offshore North Carolina with great wind energy potential while minimizing conflicts with other important uses. 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.”
As proposed, the leasing area is the same as the Kitty Hawk WEA that BOEM announced on Aug. 11, 2014, beginning approximately 24 nautical miles from shore and extending about 25.7 nautical miles in a general southeast direction. The DOI states that the WEA’s seaward extent ranges from 13.5 nautical miles in the north to 0.6 of a nautical mile in the south and that it contains 21.5 Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) blocks.
BOEM has also announced the Wilmington East and Wilmington West WEAs, which, due to their proximity and shared attributes, have been coupled with the planning and leasing process for the South Carolina Call Areas.
According to the DOI, a “Proposed Sale Notice and Request for Interest (RFI) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina” will be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 16 and will include a 60-day public comment period ending on Oct. 17.
This document – providing detailed information concerning the area available for leasing; the proposed lease provisions; and conditions, auction details and lease execution – will also include an RFI to assess whether there has been a change in competitive interest in the area since the publication of the North Carolina Call for Information and Nominations in 2012.
“This is a great day for North Carolina and our country, as we continue to make progress on diversifying our nation’s energy portfolio,” says BOEM Director Hopper. “With the completion of a successful lease sale, North Carolina will move closer to obtaining substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply from offshore wind. Additionally, such supply will assist local governments in achieving their renewable energy goals.”
In order to participate in the lease sale, potential bidders whom BOEM has determined as qualified to hold an OCS lease for commercial wind offshore North Carolina must submit a response to this notice by the end of the 60-day comment period, affirming their continued interest in the area being offered for leasing. Companies interested in participating in the lease sale that have not been qualified by BOEM must submit the required qualification materials by the end of the 60-day comment period for this notice.
To date, 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). These lease sales have generated approximately $16 million in winning bids for more than 1 million acres in federal waters.