The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has given developers more time to decide whether they wish to pursue projects within what is the largest offshore wind zone subject to a BOEM call to date.
BOEM has nearly doubled the length of the comment period for its call for information and nominations, which is designed to test developers’ interest in three wind energy areas (WEAs) off the coast of North Carolina. The bureau has also extended the public comment period on its notice of intent to prepare an environmental assessment.
Both comment periods were opened by BOEM on 13 December 2012 and were due to run until 28 January 2013. The deadline has now been extended to 7 March.
A bureau spokesperson said that a wide range of organisations had asked for more time, including developers, the state of North Carolina, and the US National Parks Service .
Brian O’Hara of the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition told Windpower Offshore that developers need more time, in part, because the call area is the largest in BOEM’s history, requiring more analysis. Second, there is some uncertainty about potential conflicts with the US Coast Guard near the border with the state of Virginia.
In addition, many developers are already working on expressions of interest for WEAs earmarked by other US east coast states, and the original call period was further shortened by the Christmas holiday.
O’Hara expects both US and European developers to vie for the North Carolina WEAs. "Interest is definitely very high… The state has the largest offshore wind resource of the East Coast and construction costs are projected to be much lower off this state," he said.
Thus far, few developers have confirmed publicly that they are pursuing an interest in North Carolina's WEAs, but in the past both Apex Wind Energy and Arcadia Offshore have indicated that they plan to propose projects. Apex has described an up to 2GW development starting 32km from shore, while Arcadia, which is run by Bluewater Wind founder Peter Mandlestam, says its staff have been working in North Carolina for 18 months.