North Carolina coast considered for offshore wind energy

The federal U.S. government said it outlined three areas off the coast of North Carolina as potential sites for commercial wind energy development.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said more than 307,000 acres off the coast could be developed for wind energy. So far, the agency has awarded five commercial wind energy leases for the Atlantic coast, though none of the projects are in service.

“We look forward to working with the state of North Carolina, industry and a broad range of stakeholders as this exciting process continues to further commercial wind development in the United States,” U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement Monday.

The Mid-Atlantic Wind Energy Institute estimates the region could host the development of enough wind energy to support the annual electricity needs of more than 50 million homes.

BOEM said it’s only considering the issuance of leases and approval of site assessment plans at this time. If leases are issued, developers would need to submit construction and operations plans as well as site-specific environmental analyses.

BOEM holds competitive auction for acreage off the coast of Maryland next week and expects Massachusetts and New Jersey sales next year.