Interior, ocean bureau ready sale of offshore wind area off of North Carolina

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper on Aug. 12 announced a proposed lease sale for 122,405 acres offshore North Carolina for commercial wind energy leasing.  

The proposed lease is for the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area, which BOEM identified in consultation with members of its North Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force. The task force includes membership from federal, state, tribal, and local government partners. Also, BOEM considered information gathered through outreach with stakeholders.

“This is an important and exciting milestone in our ongoing efforts to tap the vast wind energy resources along the Atlantic Coast,” said Jewell. “The proposed lease sale is the result of thoughtful collaboration at all levels to identify areas offshore North Carolina with great wind energy potential, while minimizing conflicts with other important uses. We will continue to work with the North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force, local communities and key stakeholders as we move forward with harnessing clean energy resources, generating jobs and stimulating local economies.”

The area proposed for leasing is the same as the Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area (WEA) that BOEM announced in August 2014. This WEA begins about 24 nautical miles from shore and extends about 25.7 nautical miles in a general southeast direction. Its seaward extent ranges from 13.5 nautical miles in the north to 0.6 of a nautical mile in the south. It contains 21.5 Outer Continental Shelf blocks.

BOEM has also announced the Wilmington East and Wilmington West WEAs, which, due to their proximity and shared attributes, have been coupled with the planning and leasing process for the South Carolina Call Areas.

A “Proposed Sale Notice (PSN) and Request for Interest (RFI) for Commercial Leasing for Wind Power on the Outer Continental Shelf Offshore North Carolina” will be published in the Federal Register on Aug. 16 and will include a 60-day public comment period ending on Oct. 17. 

This document provides detailed information concerning the area available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details (e.g., criteria for evaluating competing bids and award procedures) and lease execution. It includes an RFI to assess whether there has been a change in competitive interest in the area since the publication of the North Carolina Call for Information and Nominations in 2012. 

In order to participate in the lease sale, potential bidders whom BOEM has determined are qualified to hold an OCS lease for commercial wind offshore North Carolina must submit a response to this notice by the end of the 60-day comment period, affirming their continued interest in the area being offered for leasing.

Companies interested in participating in the lease sale that have not been qualified by BOEM must submit the required qualification materials by the end of the 60-day comment period for this notice. Companies planning to submit a qualification package are strongly encouraged to submit as early as possible during the comment period to ensure adequate time for processing. The PSN provides additional information about qualification requirements.

To be eligible to participate in the lease sale, each company must have been notified by BOEM that it is legally, technically and financially qualified by the time the Final Sale Notice is published. 

If BOEM determines that competitive interest in the proposed lease area still exists, BOEM will proceed with the competitive process. If BOEM determines competitive interest no longer exists because only one potential lessee is interested in the area, BOEM may proceed with the non-competitive process and negotiate the terms of the lease directly with the interested company.

BOEM will host a public seminar in mid-September in Raleigh, N.C., to describe the auction format, explain the auction rules, and demonstrate the auction process through meaningful examples. BOEM will also host a public meeting in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in mid-September.

This Aug. 12 announcement builds on BOEM’s work to foster offshore renewable energy development through a collaborative state-federal process to identify Wind Energy Areas and hold competitive lease sales. To date, BOEM has awarded 11 commercial offshore wind leases, including nine through the competitive lease sale process (two offshore New Jersey, two in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia). These lease sales have generated approximately $16 million in winning bids for more than a million acres in federal waters.

The Kitty Hawk sale process is outlined in more detail in a notice to be published in the Aug. 16 Federal Register.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.