The Department of the Interior announced Thursday that it is forging ahead with the lease of a nearly 200-square mile portion of the Atlantic Ocean off of the Brunswick County coastline for the development of offshore wind.
On Nov. 1, the Department of the Interior will publish a notice in the Federal Register proposing the lease sale of a large portion of the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area, starting a 60-day public comment period that will last until January 3.
When completed, the Wilmington East area could generate more than 1.5 gigawatts of electricity, which Interior said is enough for more than 500,000 homes. Part of the lease proposal will be the potential split of the site into three separate areas, according to the Department of the Interior’s press release.
President Joe Biden has announced a national target of 30 gigawatts of offshore wind built by 2030, while N.C. Governor Roy Cooper earlier this year announced state targets of 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2040.
If the project proceeds, it would become the second area off of North Carolina’s coast leased for wind energy development, joining a site off of Kitty Hawk that was leased via an auction in 2017. The Kitty Hawk site has the potential for 2.5 gigawatts of power, according to Avangrid, the company that leased the area.
Avangrid hopes to start construction at the Kitty Hawk site, which is about 27 miles off the Outer Banks, in 2025. According to a timeline on the project’s website, Avangrid is targeting 2026 for the start of commercial operations.
Along with the Wilmington East lease proposal, Interior announced Thursday that it will start preparing an environmental impact statement for a proposed wind farm off of Martha’s Vineyard and will call for information about potential new lease areas in the Gulf of Mexico
“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 written statement.
This story was produced with financial support from 1Earth Fund, in partnership with Journalism Funding Partners, as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.