Rights to develop offshore wind energy in an expanse of ocean real estate 24 nautical miles away from the North Carolina coast sold for $9 million today in an auction held by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The winning bid was placed by Avangrid Renewables, which recently completed North Carolina’s first land-based wind project.
“The same winds that once lifted the first powered flight above North Carolina’s Outer Banks could soon power thousands if not millions of American homes,” said Nancy Sopko, Director, Offshore Wind and Federal Legislative Affairs, for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “Millions of dollars in private investment drawn to this new ocean energy resource will help North Carolina’s economy take flight, creating new demand for skilled jobs, factories and U.S. flagged vessels.”
Map of the North Carolina lease area. Source: BOEM
The lease auction is the final procedural step required before an offshore wind project can be developed at the site, but the project must find a buyer for its electricity before construction can begin. The five-year process leading up to the auction engaged over a dozen groups in 13 public meetings to ensure community input.
America’s first offshore wind farm came online off Rhode Island in late 2016. The offshore wind industry has the potential to create highly skilled jobs and revitalize infrastructure in America’s port cities on the East, West and Great Lakes coasts.
Land-based wind power is the largest source of renewable energy capacity in the U.S., and employs over 100,000 American workers including 25,000 manufacturing workers at over 500 factories in 43 states.