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 By Nadia Ramlagan

May 26, 2021

RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina is ramping up plans to lease offshore wind-energy areas to developers, as the Biden administration expresses support for those efforts.

The green light comes one year before a decade-long Trump-era moratorium on offshore development is slated to go into effect – on July 1, 2022. Despite the pending moratorium, which includes wind energy, U.S. Rep. Deborah Ross, D-N.C., said the state is poised to be a leader in offshore power generation and manufacturing.

“And,” she said, “with a bipartisan effort in our delegation to seek the ability to harness the best offshore wind in the country – and associated research and technology that will go with it – it will benefit North Carolina for decades to come.”

In April, Ross sent a letter signed by a bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers urging the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to hold lease sales for two of the state’s existing wind-energy areas in federal waters off the coast of Wilmington.

It’s unlikely the Trump moratorium on offshore development would be overturned in such a divided Congress. However, Jaime Simmons, program manager for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said the most recent move is a sign the Biden administration is willing to take prompt action before the moratorium begins.

“We’re in a unique position here in North Carolina, because we already have what’s called wind-energy areas identified,” she said. “It gives a signal to those manufacturers; it gives them the certainty that they need to start making those investments.”

David Kelly, director of North Carolina political affairs for the Environmental Defense Fund, pointed out that the state already has a reputation as a clean-energy leader and a hub for clean tech.

“It’s reassuring to know that our state’s leaders in Congress recognize the opportunity that offshore wind, emerging as a industry in the United States, offers,” he said, “and that they’re taking action to make sure North Carolina is well-positioned to compete for wind-energy jobs.”

Offshore wind is expected to create a $70 billion supply chain and tens of thousands of new jobs in the United States by 2030.Disclosure: Southeastern Wind Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Energy Policy, Environment.

References:  BOEM letter to Rep. Ross, 5/18/21
Ross letter, 4/8/21
Offshore wind stats, 8/24/20