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Government designates three North Carolina areas as wind energy sites

A federal agency has designated three areas off the coast of North Carolina, including Kitty Hawk, as possible wind energy sites.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has announced a “call for information” to gauge interest from the offshore wind industry in an area totaling 1,441 square miles, including one area six miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk, and two others between seven and 13 miles off the coast of Wilmington.

The areas are expected to be good for producing wind energy with minimal impact on habitat and on such activities as military operations.

The announcement, published Thursday in the Federal Register, seeks public input and gives notice of intent that the agency will prepare an environmental assessment.

Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are set to be the first three states to sell leases for the right to build offshore wind facilities. The call for information in Virginia was made 10 months ago. In 2010, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the “Smart From the Start” wind energy initiative with plans to spark offshore wind farm development. No wind farms have been erected yet off the U.S. coast.

Opponents of the initiative point to European wind farms that rely on heavy taxpayer subsidies to operate.

To comment, go to http://www.boem.gov/About-BOEM/Public-Engagement/Public-Engagement-Opportunities.aspx or write Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, 381 Elden St., HM 1328, Herndon, VA 20170-4817. The comment period will last 45 days. Public meetings will be scheduled.