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Feds to push wind farm lease sale offshore of SC’s northern edge 

Credit:  By Chloe Johnson | The Post and Courier | www.postandcourier.com ~~

The long-dormant effort to install wind turbines offshore of the Carolinas is receiving a new push from the Biden administration, which is seeking to start leasing waters for wind farms.

The federal Department of the Interior announced Oct. 28 it’s proposing a lease sale for part of the Carolina Long Bay area, a swath of water that spans the ocean off both North Carolina and South Carolina.

The section up for lease is at South Carolina’s northern border, southeast of Oak Island, N.C., and due east of the Myrtle Beach area. It covers a total of 127,865 acres.

A lease auction would entitle certain waters to developers but would not automatically greenlight wind farms, which would still face public comment and environmental review down the line.

The department also announced it will start the environmental review of a wind project off of Massachusetts and start assessing interest in wind development in the Gulf of Mexico. The Biden administration has previously signaled its intention to generate 30 gigawatts of energy with multiple ocean wind farms by 2030, or enough power to run 10 million homes.

“These milestones represent great potential for addressing climate change through a clean, reliable, domestic energy resource while providing good-paying jobs,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement.

The move is a turnabout from last year, when wind development in the Atlantic was flung into disarray as former president Donald Trump installed a moratorium that banned both offshore wind development and offshore oil drilling.

Assuming a wind farm is eventually built on the site, either North Carolina or South Carolina could end up buying the power it produces, said Katharine Kollins, of the Southeastern Wind Coalition. But usually, utilities need formal direction by the states they’re in to buy offshore power, she said.

In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has championed the development of offshore wind energy, releasing an executive order in June that set goals for wind generation by 2030 and 2040. Cooper’s clean energy goals were codified with the passage of a formal bill, Kollins said, opening the door for Duke Energy, the state’s main utility, to purchase offshore wind.

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was also supportive of offshore wind, but momentum here has stalled in recent years.

When the federal government combined proposed development areas in waters off the Carolinas years ago, it created an intergovernmental task force with representatives from both states to hash out the details. Gov. Henry McMaster’s office received a letter in August 2019 asking for a new representative for the task force, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2021 that he named Elizabeth von Kolnitz, who is director of the state’s Ocean and Coastal Resource Management office.

In a July task force meeting, von Kolnitz said the state’s tourism officials had concerns about the visual impacts from wind turbines affecting South Carolina’s beach-focused travel industry. The state’s fishing and shipping industries needed to be consulted through the leasing process, she said, and areas where the cables from farms come ashore need to be carefully planned to avoid spots where commercial fisheries trawl and where sand is collected to replenish beaches.

In the past, state lawmakers have also signaled concern that turbines could hinder military activity offshore of South Carolina.

South Carolina is home to several parts of the wind turbine supply chain already. A General Electric factory in Greenville manufactures turbines, and a Clemson University facility in North Charleston tests them. In the July task force meeting, von Kolnitz said 48 companies in the state identified themselves as supplying the offshore wind industry.

Federal officials will accept public comment on the proposed lease sale from Nov. 1 through Jan. 3, 2022. Information on how to submit a comment is available at www.boem.gov/carolina-long-bay.

Companies interested in obtaining a lease have to submit their qualifications to the government by Jan. 3.

Source:  By Chloe Johnson | The Post and Courier | www.postandcourier.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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