U.S. East Coast states are bracing for an offshore wind boom as a new presidential administration signals support for the burgeoning industry.
President Joe Biden’s administration on March 8 published the environmental statement for the proposed 800-MW Vineyard Offshore Wind Project off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, being developed by Avangrid Inc. subsidiary Avangrid Renewables LLC and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners K/S. Publication of the statement marks the final stretch of a regulatory process, and a decision on the project will be made following a 30-day public comment period.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce on March 3 published a 131-page report by renewable energy-focused consulting firm BVG Associates. The report argues the state can marshal its strong manufacturing sector and strategic port locations to capture a slice of the offshore wind market as East Coast states prepare for 40 GW of offshore wind installations by 2035. Manufacturing employs more than 470,000 workers in the state, according to the report, which identified ports in Morehead City and Wilmington as potential locations for offshore wind hubs.
Avangrid, itself a subsidiary of Iberdrola SA of Spain, in 2017 paid the U.S. $9 million for a 122,405-acre wind energy lease area 24 miles off the shores of Corolla, N.C. The company believes its Kitty Hawk Offshore Wind Farm has the potential for 2,500 MW of generation, enough to power 700,000 homes. Duke Energy Corp., which supplies power to 3.5 million customers in North Carolina, also in its 2020 integrated resource plan identified high-wind scenarios that contemplate up to 2,650 MW of offshore wind in its portfolio by 2035.
While East Coast states are competing for offshore wind jobs, they are also collaborating; in October 2020, the governors of North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia announced a collaboration to advance offshore wind projects in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources, or SMART-POWER, will “work to streamline the development of regional offshore wind resources,” an announcement said.
On March 8, Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and Rep. Elaine Luria, sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management urging the Interior Department agency to speed up the regulatory process for offshore wind off Virginia’s coast. In December 2020, Dominion Energy Inc. submitted a construction and operations plan for the proposed 2,640-MW Virginia Beach Offshore Wind Project (Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind) project.