Duke Energy and a French conglomerate won last week’s bids for two wind energy development tracts off the North Carolina coast. The winning bids totaled $315 million, dwarfing the bids just five years ago for another area off our coast. This lease sale reflects the growing consumer, government, and energy industry interest in offshore wind power and the potential our state’s coastal winds offer to provide it.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) says these two tracts combined have the potential to generate 1.3 gigawatts or more of wind energy, enough to provide electricity for nearly half a million homes. This represents a significant portion of the Biden Administration’s goal of developing 30 GW of offshore wind nationwide by 2030 and of Gov. Cooper’s 2.8 GW by 2030 goal for North Carolina.
Winning bids for the right to build wind farms in those carefully vetted sections of ocean came from Duke’s wind subsidiary, Duke Energy Renewables Wind LLC, and TotalEnergies Renewables USA LLC, a Texas-based subsidiary of a French oil, gas, and wind energy multinational corporation.
“We have been pushing Duke Energy to move more swiftly to achieve Gov. Cooper’s and President Biden’s climate goals,” said our Clean Energy Campaigns Director Montravias King. “With their winning bid yesterday, we look forward to them including significant wind resources in their proposed carbon plan Monday and ensuring that clean, renewable power comes to North Carolina ratepayers, especially those who have been disproportionately the victim of their coal and gas pollution — namely, communities of color.”
For the first time in BOEM history, they will also credit back to the winning bidders 20% of their bid amounts ($42 million) for creation of offshore wind workforce training programs and development of a U.S. domestic supply chain for the industry. That’s part of the Biden Administration’s efforts to ensure that wind energy development supports the American economy, including good union jobs. We met with BOEM about this topic in D.C. last week.
The two tracts come no closer than 15 nautical miles from shore. Environmental considerations in approving the tracts for lease included North American right whale habitat and visual concerns.
“The Biden-Harris administration is moving forward at the pace and scale required to help achieve the president’s goals to make offshore wind energy a reality for the United States,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. She added that this wind energy development will combat climate change while creating union jobs that benefit underserved communities. “Today’s lease sale is further proof that there is strong industry interest and that America’s clean energy transition is here.”
Also last week, North Carolina’s own U.S. House Rep. Deborah Ross, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and 36 other members of Congress sent a letter to congressional leadership calling for an end to President Trump’s pending 10-year moratorium on additional offshore wind leases. If the moratorium is allowed to proceed, none of this progress will happen.