Gov. Bev Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior is moving ahead to designate sites off of North Carolina's coast for development of offshore wind energy. In working with Gov. Perdue and the N.C. Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has identified three potential areas for commercial offshore wind energy off North Carolina's coast.
A formal announcement is being published in the Federal Register, titled: "Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina -- Call for Information and Nominations."
"This is good news and an important step in North Carolina's responsible development of our offshore energy resources which will move our nation closer to energy independence," said Gov. Perdue. "The development of offshore wind energy diversifies the state's energy sector, creates much needed jobs in our coastal communities and positions our state for a 21st century economy. Today's announcement sends a clear message that our state is open for business and we will lead the southeast in the development of the nation's clean energy economy."
This announcement marks yet another important step in Gov. Perdue's efforts to develop North Carolina's world-class wind energy resources and implement recommendations of her Scientific Panel on Offshore Energy. The Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force was organized by the U.S. Interior Department at the request of Gov. Perdue. For nearly two years, local, state and federal officials as well as business and community leaders have been meeting to discuss ways to move ahead with development of coastal wind energy resources that are consistent with regional and local environmental and other economic development concerns.
The purpose of the "Call" in the Federal Register is to gauge interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in some or all of the designated areas on the Outer Continental Shelf and to seek public comments regarding site conditions, resources, and other uses of these areas. This is the first step in the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's offshore wind planning process before deciding whether to issue commercial wind leases.
There will also be a "Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA)" published in the Federal Register. The bureau is seeking public input for determining significant issues and alternatives to be analyzed in an "Environmental Assessment," which will consider potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with issuing commercial wind leases and approving site assessment activities as part of those leases.