Renewable energy milestone continues to advance Administration’s clean energy goals in push toward Paris climate discussions
Date: November 23, 2015
Contacts: Jessica Kershaw (Interior), Interior_Press@ios.doi.gov
Tracey Moriarty (BOEM), 703-787-1571
WASHINGTON — As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to create American jobs, develop clean energy sources and cut carbon pollution, and in advance of the COP 21 climate discussions in Paris, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper today announced a major step in spurring wind energy development in federal waters offshore South Carolina.
BOEM has issued a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) to gauge the offshore wind industry's interest in acquiring commercial wind leases in four areas offshore South Carolina, totaling more than 1,100 square miles on the Outer Continental Shelf, and to request comments regarding site conditions, resources and other uses in and near those areas.
“Today's milestone marks another important step in the President's strategy to tap clean, renewable energy from the Nation’s vast wind and solar resources,” said Secretary Jewell. “We know South Carolina has important wind energy potential, and we will work with stakeholders through a collaborative effort to identify high potential/low conflict areas for development, supporting investment and jobs in South Carolina.”
“This announcement represents a significant step forward in facilitating the responsible development of emissions-free renewable energy to power homes and strengthen our clean energy economy,” said Director Hopper. “We are working with the state of South Carolina, industry and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that commercial wind leasing is done smartly and in a manner that engages stakeholders throughout our process.”
The Obama Administration has launched a series of initiatives to increase renewable energy both offshore and onshore. BOEM's offshore program has awarded nine commercial wind energy leases in federal waters off the Atlantic coast, including seven leases issued as a result of competitive lease sales (two leases in an area offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, two offshore Massachusetts, two offshore Maryland, and one offshore Virginia). Two additional lease awards from the most recent competitive lease sale offshore New Jersey are undergoing Department of Justice and BOEM review. Including the New Jersey offshore wind auction held on Nov. 9, 2015, competitive lease sales have generated more than $15.7 million in revenue for over one million acres in federal waters.
Onshore, the Interior Department has permitted 57 utility-scale renewable energy projects since 2009 on our nation’s public lands. Together, the 34 solar, 11 wind and 12 geothermal facilities and associated transmission infrastructure could support more than 26,000 construction and operations jobs and generate nearly 15,000 megawatts of power to communities across the country, enough to power nearly 5 million homes. Thirteen projects are already producing power. The approved projects represent $40 billion in potential capital investments by industry in clean energy development.
The White House recently convened a summit about offshore wind, which brought together federal agencies, state leaders, offshore wind developers, environmental groups and others.
In July, Secretary Jewell and Director Hopper joined Rhode Island officials to celebrate “steel in the water” for the nation’s first offshore wind farm. When completed, Deepwater Wind’s $225 million, 30-megawatt offshore wind project will provide electricity to Block Island and Rhode Island mainland consumers.
In consultation with the South Carolina Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force, BOEM has identified four areas (“Call Areas”) in Federal waters offshore South Carolina where commercial wind energy leasing could take place, and which total about 1,167 square nautical miles. The Call Areas are delineated as Grand Strand, Cape Romain, Winyah and Charleston. A map of the Call Areas can be found here.
In addition to the Call announced today, BOEM is publishing in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA). Through the Notice of Intent (NOI), BOEM is seeking public comment for determining significant issues and alternatives to be analyzed in the EA, which will consider potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts associated with issuing commercial wind leases and approving site assessment activities on the lease areas.
The Call and the NOI will be published in the Federal Register on November 25, 2015, and BOEM will accept public comments for 60 days. In addition, BOEM will hold public information meetings to provide additional opportunities for the public to comment on the Call and the NOI.
For more information about offshore wind planning efforts for South Carolina go to www.boem.gov/South-Carolina.