North Carolina Governor Commits to Offshore Wind Power, Clean Energy Jobs

Wind turbines. Source: US Department of the Interior
Wind turbines. Source: US Department of the Interior

Executive Order No. 218 reaffirms North Carolina’s commitment to creating clean energy jobs, increasing economic opportunities, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the expansion of offshore wind power.

On June 9, 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 218 highlighting North Carolina’s commitment to offshore wind power as the state transitions to a clean energy economy. The Executive Order highlights the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind and directs actions to help North Carolina secure the jobs and economic development associated with the industry’s estimated $140 billion investment over the next 15 years to develop projects from North Carolina up the Atlantic Coast.

“Offshore wind power will help North Carolina create jobs and generate economic development while helping us transition to a clean energy economy,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper. “North Carolina’s national leadership in clean energy and manufacturing plus our highly trained workforce create a strong business environment for offshore wind supply chain and manufacturing companies.”

The Order establishes offshore wind development goals of 2.8 gigawatts off the North Carolina coast by 2030 and 8.0 GW by 2040. Achieving these goals will power roughly 2.3 million homes by 2040. In addition to creating economic benefits across North Carolina, the development will help achieve the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan goal of a 70% reduction in power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

Said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, “This coordinated approach to developing our offshore wind supply chain will bring new jobs to North Carolina for generations to come. From building out the supply chain, to installing equipment, to operating the wind facilities, North Carolina’s manufacturers and workforce are well positioned to play an integral role in the entire East Coast market, not just for projects directly off the state’s coast.”

Said North Carolina Clean Energy Director Dionne Delli-Gatti, “The coordinated effort of state and federal partners on this issue is an important step forward in our transition to a clean energy economy in North Carolina and key to meeting the goals of the state’s Clean Energy Plan.”

The Order directs the North Carolina Department of Commerce to name a clean energy economic development coordinator and establish the North Carolina Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (NC TOWERS). The Order also directs the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to designate offshore wind coordinators and take steps to support offshore wind. The Order directs quarterly meetings of the North Carolina Offshore Wind Interagency Workgroup to ensure offshore wind activities are well coordinated among leadership in relevant agencies.

“NCDMVA is committed to collaborating with Governor Cooper, State Agencies, local officials, and the DoD to find solutions that enable offshore wind development while preserving our state’s military installation’s ability to conduct testing, training, and operations critical to our military readiness,” said North Carolina Department of Military & Veterans Affairs (NCDMVA) Secretary Walter E. Gaskin, LtGen (Ret.). “We support this effort and look forward to continued coordination to help North Carolina meet its renewable energy goals while maintaining our military readiness and ensuring our national security.”

This Executive Order follows a bipartisan memorandum of understanding (MOU) among the governors of North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia in October 2020 that created the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Transformative Partnership for Offshore Wind Energy Resources (SMART-POWER). The SMART-POWER MOU provides a framework for the three states to cooperatively promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.

More recently, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released an offshore wind supply chain and infrastructure report that examines North Carolina’s opportunities to address the offshore wind industry’s supply chain and manufacturing needs. The full report is available to read on the NC Department of Commerce website.

 

Source: Ford Porter, NC Office of the Governor

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On June 9, 2021, in response to announcement of the Governor’s Executive Order, Southern Environmental Law Center North Carolina Office Director Derb Carter released the following statement:

“Across North Carolina we’re already feeling the consequences of climate change and adopting clean energy will help us avoid the worst climate impacts while gaining economic benefits. Offshore wind can be a significant part of North Carolina’s transition to clean energy, as long as it is carefully developed to protect sensitive marine and coastal environments, from endangered whales and fisheries to onshore wetlands. However, we need urgent action to reduce carbon pollution today and the multi-year process for wind will not achieve this, even though it is an important part of a long-term clean energy plan for our state. The most immediate short-term opportunity lies before us next week, so we hope the Governor will support a petition for rulemaking on June 15 that would enable North Carolina to join a regional effort to aggressively reduce carbon emissions from power plants, while also laudably pursuing the state’s abundant solar and offshore wind resources and enormous energy efficiency potential for a clean energy future.”

 

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