The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed an environmental review that clears the way for the agency to move forward with its process for considering a renewable energy lease sale offshore North Carolina.
BOEM conducted an environmental assessment according to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and found there would be no significant environmental or socioeconomic impacts from issuing wind energy leases within three Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore North Carolina according to a press release issued on Thursday.
The areas total approximately 307,590 acres in three areas dubbed Kitty Hawk, Wilmington West, and Wilmington East. For a map and more information, visit BOEM’s website.
“After considering public input and conducting a thorough environmental review, we believe that wind leasing and site characterization activities can be done in a manner that will continue to allow for other uses, and be compatible with the environment,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper.
The next step in the leasing process is for BOEM to hold a North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force meeting, which will be open to the public, to discuss the proposed approach for an offshore wind auction. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7 at the Coastline Conference & Event Center located at 501 Nutt St., Wilmington, NC.
After considering Task Force input, BOEM will publish its proposal via a “Proposed Sale Notice” in the Federal Register, which will include a 60-day public comment period.
If, after leases are issued, a lessee proposes to construct a commercial wind energy facility, it must submit a construction and operations plan for BOEM’s review and approval. BOEM would then prepare a site-specific NEPA analysis for the proposed project.
Today’s announcement builds on BOEM’s recent activities to grow offshore renewable energy through the leasing of WEAs. BOEM has awarded nine commercial wind leases, including seven through its competitive lease sale process (two offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). To date, competitive lease sales have generated more than $14.5 million in high bids for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters. BOEM is expected to hold a competitive lease sale for a WEA offshore New Jersey later this year.