NC - Carolina Long Bay Wind Energy Auction: You've got questions? We've got answers!
We are holding our next wind energy auction on May 11, 2022, for two lease areas, totaling 110,091 acres, offshore North and South Carolina. These lease areas were determined following extensive stakeholder outreach and environmental review.
Development in these lease areas could result in 1.3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, enough to power nearly 500,000 homes. As offshore wind technology continues to advance, these areas may have the potential to produce even more clean energy.
Got questions about the process to determine these lease areas? We’ve got answers!
How did BOEM arrive at the areas offered for sale via the Final Sale Notice?
Our designation of the two lease areas offered in the Final Sale Notice (FSN) were informed by its coordination with our Intergovernmental Task Force members for multiple years, stakeholder engagement, and consideration of the 60 comments that we received in response to the Proposed Sale Notice (PSN). From the initial North Carolina Call for Information and Nominations (2012), we removed hundreds of thousands of acres that were in conflict with North Atlantic Right Whale habitat, including the Wilmington West Wind Energy Area which represents 51,595 acres.
From the PSN to FSN for the Wilmington East WEA, we decided to remove from leasing consideration of all lease blocks within 20 statute miles of the shoreline, thereby eliminating 13,474 acres in the northern portion of the proposed lease area. In addition, 4,300 acres were removed from the southeast portion of the proposed lease area to eliminate overlap between the lease area and the navigational fairway proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). This reduction from 127,865 acres to 110,091 acres, or an approximate 14 percent reduction from the size of the areas proposed in the PSN, to address issues and concerns (e.g., visual impacts, marine wildlife impacts) expressed in the comments submitted on the PSN and through consultation with Federal agencies.
Following these removals, we divided the remaining lease area into two nearly equal lease areas. We designated the two lease areas to ensure that each has a similar acreage, distance to shore, wind resource potential, and in response to comments received on the PSN.
Outreach and Engagement
Did BOEM conduct outreach with affected parties?
Yes. We worked with the commercial fishing industry, Tribes, partnering agencies, key stakeholders and the public. We work hard to reduce conflicts with ocean users and minimize environmental impacts. We will continue to engage with stakeholders as the process unfolds.
We understand that wind energy development and the placement of wind turbines can be incompatible with certain types of commercial fishing, and we will continue to work with National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), industry, state governments and the fishing community to better understand and address concerns. We will also update and improve engagement practices by incorporating feedback received through our current outreach efforts.
What is BOEM doing to improve outreach and engagement?
In an effort to require early and regular outreach with Tribes, ocean users, underserved communities, agencies and other stakeholders that may be potentially affected by activities on the OCS, we require lessees to submit a semi-annual progress report.
The report will identify Tribes and parties potentially affected by proposed activities and provide updates on engagement activities, impacts on or benefits to the Tribes and parties due to the proposed activities. It will also demonstrate how a project proposal has been informed or altered to address those impacts or benefits, as well as any planned engagement activities during the next reporting period.
What is BOEM doing to promote environmental justice?
To advance our environmental justice and economic empowerment goals, the Final Sale Notice (FSN) requires lessees to identify Tribes, underserved communities and other ocean users who could be affected by offshore wind development. We will hold companies accountable for improving their engagement, communication, and transparency with these communities.
How is BOEM addressing bird flight patterns near turbines?
We are including a stipulation, at the recommendation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requiring the use of Motus telemetry tracking stations on meteorological buoys to help address information gaps on offshore movements of birds and bats, including ESA-listed species.
Did BOEM conduct environmental reviews prior to holding the sale?
Yes. The final Supplemental Environmental Assessment (SEA) assessed potential impacts from the issuance of leases within nearly 128,000 acres of wind energy areas in the Wilmington East Wind Energy Area (WEA).
Based on the analysis in the SEA, we issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI). On December 8, 2021, we announced the availability of a draft SEA of proposed wind leasing options offshore North Carolina for public review and comment. We hosted two virtual public meetings to provide an overview of the SEA and to obtain public input, on December 14 and 15, 2021. The release of the draft SEA also initiated a 30-day public comment period on the assessment itself, which ended on January 7, 2022.
To view the comments, go to www.regulations.gov.
How is BOEM leveraging domestic supply and labor?
We are committed to establishing a robust domestic supply chain that can sustain the U.S. offshore wind industry and support safe, expeditious and orderly development in the OCS. To do this, we have included new and innovative lease stipulations in the Carolina Long Bay sale. Two lease stipulations will encourage construction efficiency for projects and contribute towards establishing a domestic supply chain.
The first stipulation requires lessees to make every reasonable effort to enter a project labor agreement (PLA) covering the construction stage of any project proposed for the lease areas. The PLA provisions for the construction of an offshore wind project will apply to all contractors.
The second stipulation requires lessees to establish a statement of goals in which the lessee will describe its plans for contributing to the creation of a robust and resilient U.S.-based offshore wind industry supply chain. The lessee must provide regular progress updates to us on the achievement of those goals and we will make those updates publicly available.
We will continue to work with our fellow federal agencies and international partners to share new ideas and best practices. We look forward to learning from each other and incorporating these lessons learned in the future.
How do the lease stipulations work?
To create good-paying, union jobs and spur a domestic-based supply chain, the Carolina Long Bay Final Sale Notice includes several innovative lease stipulations:
- A new lease stipulation that requires the lessee to make every reasonable effort to enter into a project labor agreement covering the construction of any project proposed for the lease area to make sure these projects are built with union labor.
- The Lessee must submit a statement of goals in which the Lessee will describe any plans by the Lessee for contributing to the creation of a robust and resilient US-based offshore wind supply chain. The Statement of Goals must include the Lessee’s plans for investments in supply chain improvements, if any, to support the offshore wind industry. The Lessee must annually report on its progress in meeting these goals.
More information on the Carolina Long Bay lease sale can be found here: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/carolina-long-bay