SACE Comments on the Path Forward for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy

SACE submitted comments last week to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as part of their “Request for Feedback” on the path forward for Atlantic offshore wind development. With our comments, we sought to encourage the development of offshore wind energy off the Southeast coast, which could serve as a large economic and environmental opportunity.

We said:

We would like to voice our support for offshore wind energy off the Southeast coast. The Southeastern U.S. coast is home to some of the best offshore wind resources in the country. The relatively shallow offshore waters in our region are ideal for developing wind farms. This abundant resource represents a huge economic and environmental opportunity over the next several decades. For example, Clemson University found that developing 1 gigawatt of offshore wind energy off of South Carolina’s coast would create 3,879 in-state jobs, annually contribute $366 million in output and $61.6 million in local and state government revenue. Furthermore, analysis by our organization, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, found that offshore wind energy off the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia could provide high-value power at times of peak electricity demand in summer months and mitigate the need for using expensive peaking electricity generating units.

In addition to the ability for offshore wind development to promote economic development in the Southeast, it would also increase our energy security, diversify our region’s energy portfolio, reduce global warming pollution, and conserve water resources that would otherwise be used in conventional electricity generation. Moreover, offshore wind energy from the Southeast can help our region achieve the Department of Energy’s national vision of generating 20% of its electricity from wind power by the year 2030.

Due to these many factors, support for offshore wind is generally high in the Southeast. Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina issued an executive order in support of wind energy in July 2017,3 the South Carolina Legislature passed a joint resolution in support of offshore wind development in May 2014,4 and several municipalities along the Southeast coast have adopted resolutions or proclamations supporting offshore wind development, including Carolina Beach, NC, Wrightsville Beach, NC, North Myrtle Beach, SC, Charleston, SC, North Charleston, SC and Tybee Island, GA.

Additionally, we encouraged BOEM to prioritize conservation of the North Atlantic right whale by incorporating the most up-to-date information in the upcoming South Carolina environmental assessment, and updating the North Carolina environmental assessment if need be.

Finally, we encouraged BOEM to take viewshed issues into account in the next comment period once a potential developer has proposed details about a potential wind farm, including turbine size, distance from shore, and night time lighting strategies.

Offshore wind energy presents a massive opportunity for clean energy, which could boost the economy and protect the environment. SACE looks forward to helping participate constructively in making the offshore wind future a reality here in the Southeast.

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