Distributed Energy Resources

North Carolina executive order sets target for 8 GW of offshore wind by 2040

Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s Democratic governor, recently issued an executive order highlighting the state’s commitment to offshore wind power and setting a target to procure 8 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2040.

Executive Order No. 218 also establishes an interim offshore wind development target of deploying 2.8 GW of wind energy plants off the North Carolina coast by 2030 and directs the state’s Secretary of Commerce to establish the N.C. Taskforce for Offshore Wind Economic Resource Strategies (TOWERS) to advise on programs and policies to advance offshore wind projects.

The order also directs the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to designate offshore wind coordinators and take steps to support offshore wind and calls for quarterly meetings of the North Carolina Offshore Wind Interagency Workgroup to ensure offshore wind activities are well coordinated among relevant agencies.

In addition to creating economic benefits in the state, the executive order aims to help achieve the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan goal of a 70 percent reduction in power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and carbon dioxide neutrality by 2050.

Wind power projects off the Atlantic Coast have the potential to create 85,000 jobs and attract $140 billion in capital investment over the next 15 years, according to the executive order.

The 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 promote, develop and expand offshore wind energy and the accompanying industry supply chain and workforce.

Several Mid-Atlantic states have already taken steps to encourage offshore wind development. Connecticut in late 2019, through a competitive solicitation, selected Vineyard Wind to develop 804 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind. Earlier in 2019, Massachusetts approved long-term contracts for 800 MW of offshore wind between Vineyard Wind and investor-owned electric utilities in the state.

In 2018, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order directing the state’s Board of Public Utilities to fully implement legislation to begin the process of moving the state toward a goal of having 3,500 MW of offshore wind in place by 2030.

More recently, the Biden administration and California Gov. Gavin Newsom identified regions off the California coast that could support White House’s goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind energy by 2030.

And in March, the New York State Public Service Commission, along with the Long Island Power Authority and other stakeholders adopted a plan to build a 7.6-mile transmission line to connect the proposed 132-MW wind farm in offshore New York waters.