NC - Proposed bill could stymy North Carolina's offshore wind development offshore

The bill would place a 10-year freeze on the state issuing permits for any offshore wind project to allow a review of environmental, economic concerns

Offshore wind may have strong support in the White House and in the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh, but it remains clear that support for the "green" power alternative to traditional fossil fuel power sources remains far from unanimous in North Carolina.

With decarbonizing the nation's energy grid to help fight climate change one of his administration's goals, President Joe Biden has said he hopes offshore wind farms will power as many as 10 million American homes by 2030. That push has seen a flurry of new projects announced or initiated in recent years, including the auctioning off a pair of ocean sites south of Brunswick County for more than $300 million in May 2022.

MORE Could the slowing economy take the financial wind out of NC's offshore wind farms?

A third project, a 2.5-gigawatt farm 27 miles off the Outer Banks in an area that was auctioned off late last decade, is already well into the planning process.

The federal government also has identified two potential sites farther off the Outer Banks in deeper waters, where floating wind turbines would be needed to produce power. Those sites could substantially help meet Gov. Roy Cooper's goal of North Carolina producing 8 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2040.

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But the idea of turbines rising more than 800 feet from the ocean's surface has met with resistance from oceanfront property owners worried about the wind farms disrupting their pristine coastal views and local officials scared they could impact the coast's vital tourism industry. Fishermen also have raised concerns about the wind farms placing rich fishing grounds out of bounds, and from some environmentalists worried about them negatively impacting marine life, especially the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

More recently, an increasing number of dead whales in the New York City area has prompted a number of officials there to question if preparations for wind farms in the area has played a role in the animal's deaths.

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