USA: BOEM Seeks Industry Interest in Wind Energy Development Offshore North Carolina
As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to expand domestic energy development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced it is publishing a Call for Information and Nominations to gauge the offshore wind industry’s interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in three areas offshore North Carolina and to request comments regarding site conditions, resources and other uses within the Call areas.
In consultation with the North Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, BOEM has identified three areas on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore North Carolina where commercial wind energy leasing could take place. The three Call Areas are comprised of 195 whole OCS blocks and 60 partial blocks, totaling 1,441 square nautical miles. One area is located six miles offshore Kitty Hawk, and two areas are located seven and 13 miles offshore southern Wilmington.
Consistent with Interior Secretary Salazar’s Smart From the Start strategy for offshore wind, each of the three Call Areas has been designed to make available areas that are attractive for commercial offshore wind development while also protecting sensitive habitats and resources and minimizing space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping and fishing. Site-specific mitigation measures, stipulations or exclusion areas may be developed as a result of future environmental reviews and associated consultations.
In addition to the Call, BOEM is publishing in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA). Through the NOI, BOEM is seeking public comment for determining significant issues and alternatives to be analyzed in the EA. The EA will consider potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with issuing commercial wind leases and approving site assessment activities on the lease areas.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant step forward in facilitating the responsible development of renewable, clean energy offshore the United States,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau. “We are working with the state of North Carolina, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that commercial wind leasing is done smartly and in a manner that engages and involves stakeholders throughout our process.”
Press release, December 13, 2012; Image: boem