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Groups Say Expanding Offshore Wind Capacity Good for NC Economy

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Friday, June 18, 2021   

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Groups advocating for clean energy say Gov. Roy Cooper's recent commitment to expand North Carolina's offshore wind capacity will bring economic benefits to the state.

North Carolina has among the highest offshore wind-energy potential in the nation, with its long coastline and shallow outer-continental shelf.

Jaime Simmons, program manager for the Southeastern Wind Coalition, said in addition to being a carbon-free source of power, expanding offshore wind could create tens of thousands of new jobs.

"Some of these major location decisions are being driven in large part by the states or regions with anticipated projects," Simmons explained. "So these development goals set by Gov. Cooper make a much stronger case for these manufacturers to locate and invest in North Carolina."

North Carolina is facing a 10-year moratorium on all offshore energy leasing starting in July 2022.

Simmons pointed out pending legislation would exempt offshore wind from the ban. In the meantime, she noted there is work to do, to get existing wind-energy areas ready for leasing, including Wilmington East and West in the southern part of the state, and prepare for development of new projects to start immediately when the moratorium ends.

Simmons emphasized offshore wind will be an essential part of the move toward a carbon-free grid, and it marries well with solar energy. When solar starts to produce less in the day, around early evening, offshore wind usually is blowing the strongest.

She added the high generation capacity of individual offshore wind projects is key.

"You're really talking about rethinking what baseload power means," Simmons contended. "Offshore wind is really the only renewable energy that could replace the capacity from a coal facility or natural-gas facility."

Cooper's proclamation outlines targets for offshore wind energy of 2,800 megawatts by 2030 and 8,000 megawatts by 2040. His administration said 8,000 megawatts could power more than two million homes.

The order also aligns with the state's clean-energy plan signed in 2018, which aims to reduce power-sector greenhouse gases 70% by 2030, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


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