One of only a few US east coast states not to have embraced the advantages of offshore wind energy has allocated funding for a study looking at its potential.
In his recommended budget for 2019-2021, ‘Investments for a Determined North Carolina,’ in a section of the budget entitled ‘Natural and Economic Resources,’ North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper included a line item that dedicates US$1.5M to study North Carolina’s potential to host offshore wind operations and associated jobs. The funding will also support university energy centres providing technical assistance on using clean energy and enabling technologies and expands the state’s environmental stewardship initiative, which helps businesses implement practices with environmental and economic benefits.
North Carolina’s governor has been reluctant to investigate offshore wind off the coast of the state, despite its acknowledged wind resource, but has now taken a small step towards a form of energy that numerous east coast states are investing in.
In 2017, 50 elected officials, small businesses, community groups and environmental organisations sent a letter to the governor calling on him to embrace offshore wind as a key part of North Carolina’s energy plan. The letter was sent in the wake of the passage of House Bill 589, to which a late amendment set an 18-month moratorium on onshore wind power developments.
“Despite the legislature’s baffling onshore wind moratorium, Governor Cooper can continue to drive progress on clean, carbon-free energy by focusing efforts on offshore wind developments,” said the letter. “The hiatus on onshore wind activity should not detract from North Carolina’s tremendous offshore wind potential and the need to jumpstart action on that front.”
The letter said the federal government had found that North Carolina has the highest offshore wind power potential of all Atlantic coast states.