This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 20, 2014

DOI Defines North Carolina Offshore Wind Energy Areas for Potential Development

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on August 11 announced that its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has defined three Wind Energy Areas offshore North Carolina. The areas total approximately 308,000 acres for potential commercial wind energy development. Each of the three Wind Energy Areas has been designed to make available areas that are attractive for commercial offshore wind development, while also protecting important viewsheds, sensitive habitats and resources, and minimizing space use conflicts with activities such as military operations, shipping, and fishing.

The Wind Energy Areas announced include the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Areas (about 122,000 acres), the Wilmington West Wind Energy Areas (about 52,000 acres), and the Wilmington East Wind Energy Areas (about 134,000 acres). Before any leases are offered for competitive auction, BOEM will complete an Environmental Assessment to determine potential impacts associated with issuing leases and approving site assessment activities in the Wind Energy Areas, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act.

BOEM is only considering the issuance of leases and approval of site assessment plans at this time. If leases are issued, any proposal for a commercial wind energy facility will require a construction and operations plan and a site-specific environmental analysis.

This announcement builds on BOEM’s recent activities to grow offshore renewable energy through the leasing of Wind Energy Areas. BOEM has awarded five commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast: two non-competitive leases (for the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts and an area off Delaware's coast) and three competitive leases (two offshore Massachusetts-Rhode Island and another offshore Virginia). See the DOI news release.