Biden administration will auction 110,000 acres off NC coast for wind energy

Published March 24, 2022

By Lisa Sorg

The federal government will lease more than 110,000 acres south of Bald Head Island for offshore wind energy, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced today. The auction is scheduled for May 11.

If developed, the offshore wind project could generate least 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes.

BOEM completed its environmental assessment this month and determined the project would not significantly impact the environment. Instead of a proposed meteorological tower, the plan now calls for buoys, which are less disruptive to the sea floor and coastal views. The installation of a tower also posed risks of accidental fuel spills.

The environmental assessment also includes stipulations to ensure leasing companies will “coordinate and communicate their activities with commercial and recreational fishermen.”

Numerous endangered and threatened species live in these waters. According to the environmental assessment, the project has new design criteria to reduce the risk to whales and sea turtles.

Separate environmental assessments would be required for offshore wind farm construction, as well as the installation of cable corridors that would connect the turbines to the shore. These assessments would analyze the effects on sea life and migratory birds.