North Carolina offshore wind environmental assessment

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released an environmental assessment of the impacts of leasing sites off the North Carolina coast for offshore wind projects.  This milestone supports the Obama administration's plan to offer site leases on the outer continental shelf for renewable energy projects.

Since 2012, BOEM has solicited public comment on the prospect of leasing about 307,590 acres off North Carolina for potential offshore wind development.  BOEM has identified three Wind Energy Areas offshore North Carolina:
  • the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (about 122,405 acres), beginning about 24 nautical miles (nm) from shore and extends approximately 25.7 nm in a general southeast direction;
  • the Wilmington West Wind Energy Area (about 51,595 acres), beginning about 10 nm from shore and extends approximately 12.3 nm in an east-west direction at its widest point; and
  • the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (about 133,590 acres), beginning about 15 nm from Bald Head Island at its closest point and extends approximately 18 nm in the southeast direction at its widest point.

BOEM's map of North Carolina Wind Energy Areas.
On January 22, 2015, BOEM announced the availability of an environmental assessment for public review and comment.  Under the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA, an environmental assessment or EA considers the potential impacts of proposed federal action and analyzes reasonable alternatives to the proposed action.  In this case, the action proposed is BOEM's issuance of commercial wind leases and allowing of site characterization and assessment activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf offshore North Carolina.

BOEM's environmental assessment for North Carolina offshore wind leasing provides the framework for potential federal lease auctions for North Carolina offshore wind sites.  The environmental assessment is available for public comment through February 23, 2015. 

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