Offshore wind power in North Carolina garners company interest

Five companies have expressed an interest in building wind farms off the coast of North Carolina, which the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has estimated holds the highest offshore wind power potential for the East Coast.

Both environmental groups and the state government support the idea, envisioning North Carolina as the center of renewable energy in America, McClatchy reported.

The federal government asked companies in December if they would be interested in the development of offshore wind near North Carolina. Five responded, including Virginia Electric and Power Co., part of the Dominion utility that services Virginia and part of North Carolina.

"We responded we are interested, but there is a long way to go," said Dan Genest, Dominion spokesman. "We are interested. We would like to be a player. There's a lot we have to learn, though."

The locations that have been identified for possible offshore development are near Wilmington and across from the island towns of Kitty Hawk, Nags Head and Manteo, beyond the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the article stated.

Currently there are no operating offshore wind farms in the US, but the push for development of this renewable resource in the Mid-Atlantic region has taken great strides this year.  In February the US Department of Interior announced the government is considering offering competitive leases for offshore wind farms in six areas along the East Coast.

Recently, Maryland also passed the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 which will lead to the construction of at least 200 megawatts of offshore wind energy. The new law, which passed the state's Senate March 8, requires a certain percentage of the state's electricity be supplied by offshore wind power beginning in 2017.

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