SEWC To BOEM: N.C. Offshore Wind Buffer Zone Overly Protective

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SEWC To BOEM: N.C. Offshore Wind Buffer Zone Overly Protective The Southeastern Wind Coalition (SEWC) recently submitted comments to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) during the comment period for the North Carolina draft environmental assessment.

At issue is the North Carolina wind energy area (WEA) designated by BOEM in August 2014. In its release, the agency imposed a 33.7-nautical-mile buffer zone stretching from Bodie Island Lighthouse, off the North Carolina coast.

According to SEWC, the exclusion zone – which restricts more than 750,000 acres – was granted at the request of the National Park Service.

Working alongside the American Wind Energy Association and the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind, SEWC noted the following in its comments to BOEM:

  • A 33.7-nautical-mile visual buffer is unnecessarily far to mitigate visual impacts;
  • Requiring an over-the-horizon visual exclusion zone in North Carolina sets a troubling precedent for other states and potentially opens up other areas to legal challenge from opponents;
  • The decision was made without ever seeking state input on such an extensive visual buffer;
  • Pushing areas that far offshore increases cost; and
  • Increased cost threatens the viability of development.

‘We recommended to BOEM that the decision should be revisited to allow for state input and that BOEM should issue a statement clarifying that areas not included in a Call or WEA may be considered for leasing in the future and are not "off the table' permanently,’ says Brian O'Hara, SEWC president.

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