Siting, Leasing, & Permitting
(Generation, Transmission, & Grid Interconnection)
Researchers from the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences created maps that integrate new stakeholder information with existing agency data, enabling BOEM to reduce potential user conflicts within leases for offshore wind development. Project objectives were to obtain and convey spatially explicit information indicating where wind energy development can avoid or minimize conflicts with fish, fish habitat, fishing, diving, and ecotourism in the three Call Areas published in December 2012: Wilmington-West, Wilmington-East, and Kitty Hawk on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore of North Carolina.
In 2012, BOEM identified three Wind Energy Call Areas off of North Carolina (US Government, Federal Register Vol 77, No. 240, December 2012): the Kitty Hawk Call Area is located near the North Carolina-Virginia border whereas both the Wilmington-West and Wilmington-East Call Areas are located near the North Carolina-South Carolina border, near Cape Fear and Frying Pan Shoals. In August 2014, BOEM announced three, fully vetted, WEAs offshore of North Carolina, in which each of the three Call Areas were reduced in size. This research project examined the seafloor and benthic communities in the Wilmington-East Call Area with some assessments focused on the smaller Wilmington-East WEA.
BOEM has defined three Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore North Carolina. The Kitty Hawk WEA begins about 24 nautical miles (nm) from shore and extends approximately 25.7 nm in a general southeast direction at its widest point. Its seaward extent ranges from 13.5 nm in the north to .6 nm in the south. It contains approximately 21.5 OCS blocks (122,405 acres). The Wilmington West WEA begins about 10 nm from shore and extends approximately 12.3 nm in an east-west direction at its widest point. It contains just over 9 OCS blocks (approximately 51,595 acres). The Wilmington East WEA begins about 15 nm from Bald Head Island at its closest point and extends approximately 18 nm in the southeast direction at its widest point. It contains approximately 25 OCS blocks (133,590 acres).
BOEM is announcing the availability of a revised Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for commercial wind lease issuance, site characterization activities (geophysical, geotechnical, archaeological, and biological surveys), and site assessment activities (including the installation and operation of a meteorological tower and/ or buoys) on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf offshore North Carolina. The revised EA provides a discussion of potential impacts of the proposed action and an analysis of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action.
BOEM conducted detailed surveys to assess the geoarchaeological potential of pre-historic habitation at select sites and to provide baseline information concerning the potential to identify prehistoric and relict landforms, historic shipwrecks and objects, and hazardous MEC/UXO lying in the SC-OCS.
This investigation is intended to provide a baseline of cultural information that will inform preliminary planning decisions regarding renewable energy development in the Atlantic Region and assist in compliance with NHPA and NEPA with respect to the placement of off-shore energy facilities. It identifies known cultural resources/historic properties that could be visually affected, as well as publicly accessible cultural resources/historic properties that could be socio-economically impacted due to diminished levels of visitation.
BOEM prepared this Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the reasonably foreseeable environmental consequences of lease issuance and, in particular, whether issuing a lease will result in significant environmental impacts. The activities associated with the EA include 1) site characterization surveys; and, 2) site assessment activities.
BOEM has defined three wind energy areas in federal waters between three and 200 miles offshore of North Carolina. Two of these areas are off the coast of Wilmington, while the third is to the north, near Kitty Hawk. The next step in the leasing process will be an environmental assessment of these proposed WEAs. The total area proposed for wind energy leasing off the state coast is about 307,590 acres.
By synthesizing information from regional stakeholders about the locations of natural resources and their existing uses within published wind energy Call Areas, researchers from the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences were able to create maps that integrate new stakeholder information with existing agency data, enabling BOEM to reduce potential user conflicts within leases for offshore wind development. Project objectives were to obtain and convey spatially explicit information indicating where wind energy development can avoid or minimize conflicts with fish, fish habitat, fishing, diving, and ecotourism in the three Call Areas published in December 2012: Wilmington-West, Wilmington-East, and Kitty Hawk on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) offshore of North Carolina.