Feds designate 3 North Carolina offshore wind areas

The Interior Department said Monday that it had identified three areas off the coast of North Carolina for possible wind energy development.

The designated areas total more than 300,000 acres, according to Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Two of them are off the state’s southern tip near Wilmington and one is in the north, near the Outer Banks.

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“Today represents an important step forward for North Carolina in harnessing the vast wind energy potential along the Atlantic Coast to power homes and strengthen our clean energy economy,” Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellChaffetz named Harvard Institute of Politics fellow Don’t rewrite the rules to mine next to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Outdoor gear companies take on Trump MORE said in a statement.

“We look forward to working with the state of North Carolina, industry and a broad range of stakeholders as this exciting process continues to further commercial wind development in the United States,” she said.

Monday’s announcement does not necessarily mean the offshore areas will be developed. Interior would have to issue leases and go through extensive environmental review processes before turbines could be installed.

In designating them, Interior said it worked with federal and state officials to ensure that wind turbines would not disrupt parks, important views or ocean navigation. It also had to determine whether certain areas would be attractive for commercial-scale wind energy.

BOEM has previously designated wind energy areas in Atlantic waters from Rhode Island to Maryland.

There are currently no commercial-scale offshore wind energy facilities in the United States. If completed, Cape Wind off Cape Cod, Mass., would be the first.